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Markets

Tech sell-off weighs on Wall St as jobless claims remain high

  • Weekly jobless claims stuck at high levels.
  • Fed vows to keep rates low until 2023.
  • Technology stocks sell off, big US banks fall.
  • Indexes down: Dow 0.62%, S&P 0.84%, Nasdaq 1.17%.
Published September 17, 2020

Wall Street's main indexes fell on Thursday after data showed high levels of weekly jobless claims, while technology-related stocks resumed their slide with Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc among the biggest drags on the Nasdaq.

All 11 major S&P 500 sector indexes fell in early trading, with energy stocks leading declines as fears of tepid fuel demand hit oil prices.

Bank stocks slipped 1.1%, while the broader financials subindex fell 1.0%, a day after the Federal Reserve pledged to keep interest rates low for a prolonged period to lift the world's biggest economy out of a pandemic-induced recession.

But with Fed Chair Jerome Powell indicating a long road to "maximum employment", stock markets were disappointed by the lack of firmer details around the central bank's stimulus plan.

"The bulls basically wanted more long-term bond buying (and) the fact that the Fed failed to provide that additional upside, investors are a bit more bearish today," said Mike Bailey, director of research at FBB Capital Partners in Bethesda, Maryland.

Adding to concerns around a stalling recovery, the Labor Department's report showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, but remained perched at extremely high levels.

The Nasdaq, which entered correction territory earlier this month, slipped another 1.2% with Facebook Inc , Apple, Amazon.com, Tesla Inc, Microsoft Corp , Alphabet Inc and Netflix Inc together losing $150 billion in market capitalization in the first half hour of trading.

At 10:08 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 172.82 points, or 0.62%, at 27,859.56, and the S&P 500 was down 28.53 points, or 0.84%, at 3,356.96.

General Electric Co rose 3.8% after Chief Executive Officer Larry Culp said on Wednesday the company's free cash flow would turn positive in the second half of this year.

Ford Motor Co added 1.1% as it said it had begun production of the new generation F-150 pickup truck at its Michigan facility.

Carnival Corp dropped 1.6% after its British cruiseline P&O Cruises extended a cancellation in sailings until early 2021. Other cruise operators such as Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd shed 1%.

German biotech firm BioNTech SE rose 2.7% as it said it was buying a production site from Swiss drugs giant Novartis to boost output of its potential coronavirus vaccine by several million doses.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers 3.12-to-1 on the NYSE and 2.13-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded no new 52-week high or low, while the Nasdaq recorded 15 new highs and 14 new lows.

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