(Reuters) – The Nasdaq was on track for its worst two-day fall since March on Friday as investors dumped heavyweight technology stocks, while concerns around a patchy economic recovery also hit the S&P 500 and the blue-chip Dow.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell as much as 9.9% from Wednesday’s all-time record high and the S&P 500 dipped briefly below its February peak.
Mega-cap companies Apple Inc, Microsoft Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Facebook Inc, were down between 1.9% and 3.6%.
“It’s just position squaring … not surprising since we’ve seen a pretty sizable run up in the tech space in the last three or four weeks,” said Jack Janasiewicz, portfolio strategist at Natixis Investment Managers in Greater Boston Area.
Losses were more pronounced in the Nasdaq, which have powered the stock market’s stellar recovery from the coronavirus-led crash, climbing as much as 82% from March lows. The benchmark S&P 500 and Dow have surged about 60% from their troughs.
Earlier in the day, the Labor Department’s closely watched employment report showed jobless rate fell to 8.4% from 10.2% in July, steeper than economists’ forecast of 9.8%. Nonfarm payrolls, however, increased less than expected last month.
The data added pressure on the White House and Congress to restart stalled negotiations over the next coronavirus relief package to lift the economy out of the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Technology, communication services and consumer discretionary indexes posted the steepest percentage declines among the major S&P sectors.
Underperforming value stocks including banks and airlines rose between 1.0% and 1.6%. Both the indexes are down more than 30% this year.
“There are segments of the cyclical trade that you might be starting to see some rotation in to, but I don’t think it’s the big picture value-growth trade reversal yet,” Janasiewicz said.
Fund managers warned Thursday’s declines may be a preview of a rocky two months ahead as institutional investors return from summer vacations and refocus on potential economic pitfalls.
The run-up to the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election is also expected to add to the volatility.
Wall Street’s fear gauge hit a more than 11-week high earlier in the session.
At 12:58 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 303.91 points, or 1.07%, at 27,988.82 and the S&P 500 was down 48.08 points, or 1.39%, at 3,406.98. The Nasdaq Composite was down 261.35 points, or 2.28%, at 11,196.75.
The S&P 500 and Dow were headed for their worst two-day decline since mid-June.
Broadcom Inc gained 3.5% after the Apple Inc supplier forecast fourth-quarter revenue above analysts’ estimates.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.26-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 2.76-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded no new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 19 new highs and 84 new lows.
(This story corrects dropped word “NYSE” in paragraph 17)
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