The Nasdaq tallied its worst losses in three months on Wednesday, Nov. 29, amid another snap selloff in tech stocks.
The index fell 88 points, or 1.27%, in its worst day since Aug. 17. Financial stocks, meanwhile, pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 104 points, or .43%, to another record. The S&P 500 was caught in the middle, falling by just 1 point, or 0.01%.
Autodesk Inc. (ADSK) , down 15.8%, was one of the worst performers on the S&P 500 as well as the Nasdaq, and it dragged the rest of the tech sector lower. The software developer fell after announcing plans to lay off more than 1,000 workers in a restructuring that will better align resources with its priorities. CEO Andrew Anagnost said the move, which will slice 13% of its workforce, was not to reduce costs but to refocus the company during a "growth phase."
The Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) decreased 2.23%, its worst day since June 9. The tech sector has been particularly susceptible to selloffs since the middle of the year following a steep run-up over the past 18 months.
"We don't see this selloff in technology as anything truly transformative, but could continue in the short term," Jeremy Bryan, CFA and portfolio manager at Gradient Investments, told TheStreet. "On the opposite side, several stocks that have been weak over the prior few months, like telecom and retail, are reacting positively. Today's action would indicate some profit-taking on stocks that have run aggressively and reallocation toward these lower-performing sectors."
In economic news, the U.S. expanded at a faster pace in the third quarter than initially estimated, according to gross domestic product data released Wednesday. Economic growth was raised to 3.3% from 3%, above an expected upward revision to 3.2%. While business equipment investment rose, consumer spending came in weaker than initially thought. The headline third-quarter number was the strongest in three years.
"For many, this is further confirmation that the U.S. economic current is flowing at a more-than-healthy clip," said Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E*TRADE. "With holiday retail sales looking strong, jobs numbers robust, tax reform seemingly nigh, and the market pushing new boundaries, there's a whole lot to be happy about ... you better believe that Fed officials still have a rate increase in December squarely in their crosshairs."
The Federal Reserve's latest Beige Book, meanwhile, indicated modest to moderate economic growth over the six weeks from early October to mid-November. All districts reported an expansion in manufacturing conditions, in the release, an anecdotal reading of economic conditions in the 12 Fed districts published eight times per year.
The chances of the Senate tax bill's passage looked brighter after the chamber's Budget Committee voted on Tuesday, Nov. 28, to advance it to a floor later in the week. While the decision was split along party lines, support from two Republican holdouts, Sens. Bob Corker and Ron Johnson, allowed the proposal to proceed.
In a floor vote, the Senate GOP can only afford two nay votes from its own party. A number of Republican senators have voiced concerns over the bill, including worries that tax cuts would significantly raise the deficit -- the Congressional Budget Office has calculated that the plan would widen the shortfall by more than $1.4 trillion over the next decade. Even so, the chances those holdouts can be flipped with just small revisions look to be increasing.
"If there is not adequate support for passage, we would expect the vote to be delayed," said Goldman Sachs analysts in a note. "However, it's much more likely in our view that the vote on Friday will be successful."
Tax plan on the way?
UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) led the Dow with shares up 3.15% after a series of analysts' price target updates. Deutsche Bank kept a buy rating, but upped its price target to $224, Jefferies increased its target to $248, and Raymond James boosted its own to $250. Shares fell a few days earlier after the health insurer guided for a below-consensus 2018.
Finance stocks were some of the best performers on the Dow and S&P 500. Dow components JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) climbed, while Citigroup Inc. (C) led the S&P 500. The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF) increased 1.71%.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen was on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to discuss the state of the economy and the economic outlook.
In prepared remarks before her address, Yellen pushed for legislative policies that could trigger economic growth after what has been "disappointingly slow" progress since the recession.
"Congress might consider policies that encourage business investment and capital formation, improve the nation's infrastructure, raise the quality of our educational system, and support innovation and the adoption of new technologies," Yellen said. She cited an aging population and weak productivity growth as possible causes of a slow recovery.
Yellen's testimony comes a day after Jerome Powell, President Donald Trump's pick to replace her, testified before Congress during a confirmation hearing. If the Senate approves, Powell will replace Yellen when her term expires in February.
Crude oil fluctuated after a sharper drop in stockpiles than expected. Inventories fell by 3.4 million barrels in the past week, according to the Energy Information Administration, sharper than an anticipated decline of 2.3 million barrels. Gasoline and distillates stockpiles both rose.
Oil prices were lower earlier ahead of a meeting of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries on Thursday, Nov. 30. OPEC and non-OPEC producers will meet to discuss extending cuts beyond their March 2018 expiration date. Traders hope that the oil cartel and other countries can agree upon an extension, though Russia is widely considered a wild card.
West Texas Intermediate crude settled lower 1.2% to $57.30 a barrel on Wednesday.
Pending home sales rose at a better-than-expected pace in October, far exceeding analysts' consensus. The number of sales in which a contract has been signed but a deal not yet closed climbed by 3.5% in October, according to the National Association of Realtors. Analysts expected a 1% increase after a 0.4% dip in September.
Hours after bitcoin topped $11,000 for the first time, the cryptocurrency was sent tumbling nearly 20%. It traded as low as $9,290 Wednesday afternoon before rebounding to $9,515.
The value of the world's benchmark cryptocurrency had earlier topped even some of the best-known companies in U.S. history. The Wednesday move past $11,000 had also put bitcoin's "market cap," the theoretical value based on 16.7 million coins that have been verified by blockchain miners, at $180.7 billion, a figure that would place it 14th in the ranking of valuations on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, ahead of Walt Disney Co. (DIS) ($156 billion), International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) ($141 billion), McDonald's Corp. (MCD) ($149 billion) and just below Verizon Communications (VZ) ($199 billion).
Walmart Stores Inc. (WMT) was upgraded to sector perform from underperform at RBC Capital and its stock-price target increased to $96 from $92. The firm said it sees investments paying off in the long term, putting it on far stronger footing against Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) .
Tiffany & Co. (TIF) topped quarterly estimates over its recent three-month period. Net income of 80 cents a share beat expectations by 4 cents. Revenue increased 3% to $976.2 million and surpassed consensus of $958.3 million. However, same-store sales fell 1%, a much steeper decline than expected. By region, America sales gained 1%, Asia-Pacific sales increased 15%, and Japan sales dropped 8%.
Nuance Communications (NUAN) was sharply higher on Wednesday after topping profit and sales estimates. Adjusted earnings of 20 cents a share surpassed expectations by a nickel. Revenue dipped 7.4% to $474.7 million but beat estimates by $19 million.
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (CMG) surged after announcing that current CEO Steve Ells will assume the position of executive chairman, leaving the chief executive role open. Ells currently also acts as chairman. In a statement, Ells said the company needs to "execute better to ensure our future success."