Wall Street falls in choppy trading as tech sell-off resumes

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks turned lower in volatile trading on Friday as worries about rising coronavirus cases and a patchy economic recovery dampened risk sentiment, with technology-related stocks reversing early gains to extend their declines to a third day.

FILE PHOTO: Health care workers walk with protective face masks on past the New York Stock Exchange, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in the lower section of Manhattan in New York City, U.S., September 9, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Volatility is likely to be higher on Friday related to a quarterly expiration of U.S. stock options, stock index futures and index option contracts, known as “quadruple witching”.

Out of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors, financials .SPSY rose the most, while technology .SPLRCT was the biggest decliner, falling 2%.

“The acceleration of digital, virtual and e-commerce trends has caused valuations in the tech sector to expand,” said Thomas Mantione, managing director at UBS Private Wealth Management in Stamford, Connecticut.

“But as we’ve seen, the tech sector is not immune from the volatility that could be caused by the lack of fiscal policy response to COVID-19 and uncertainty surrounding the 2020 election.”

Apple Inc AAPL.O, Microsoft Corp MSFT.O, Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O and Alphabet Inc GOOGL.O led declines on the Nasdaq, falling between 2.7% and 3.2%.

Among sectors, industrials .SPLRCI, materials .SPLRCM and energy .SPNY have gained more than 2% so far this week, while communication services .SPLRCL and consumer discretionary .SPLRCD eyed the biggest weekly declines.

Wall Street’s three main indexes bounced earlier this week as investors bet on a loose monetary policy by the Federal Reserve, but gains petered out in the absence of firm details on the central bank’s stimulus plan.

The S&P 500 .SPX and the Nasdaq .IXIC have also come under pressure from investors rotating out of high-flying tech-related stocks and into industrial and transportation firms.

At 12:41 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 135.29 points, or 0.48%, at 27,766.69, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 33.48 points, or 1.00%, at 3,323.53 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 176.10 points, or 1.61%, at 10,734.18.

Tesla rose 2.9% as two analysts raised their price targets on the electric carmaker’s shares ahead of its highly anticipated “Battery Day” event next week.

Oracle Corp ORCL.N fell 0.6% after Reuters reported the U.S. Commerce Department plans to issue an order on Friday that will bar people in the United States from downloading Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat and video-sharing app TikTok starting on Sept. 20.

The owner of the widely popular TikTok app, ByteDance, is in talks with Oracle and others to create a new company, TikTok Global.

On a bright note, a survey showed U.S. consumer sentiment improved in early September.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.79-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.35-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 11 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 56 new highs and 13 new lows.

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