NEW YORK: US stocks tumbled on Friday after some weak earnings reports, with growth stocks coming under pressure in a torrid week that saw bond yields surge on expectations of interest rate hikes.
All the 11 major S&P 500 sectors fell, with healthcare stocks dropping the most after a downbeat profit forecast from HCA Healthcare sent its shares tumbling 16.7%.
Other hospital operators Tenet Healthcare, Community Health Systems and Universal Health Services also fell between 10.4% and 13.2%.
Meanwhile, concerns about risks from interest rate hikes continued to hurt megacap growth stocks, especially after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s hawkish pivot on Thursday.
Powell backed moving more quickly to combat inflation and said a 50 basis point (bps) increase would be “on the table” when the Fed meets in May.
Powell’s comment triggered a selloff in Meta Platforms Inc and Amazon.com Inc, which were already reeling from the dismal results from streaming giant Netflix earlier this week.
The S&P 500 growth index is down about 15.2% so far this year, while its value counterpart is trading about 1% lower.
“If we see yields continuing to move higher, it is going to be a depressant on growth stocks,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities.
“The market is fearful of the Fed overchoking the inflation fear and causing a rut in corporate earnings in the future.” The prospect of a more hawkish Fed has led to a rocky start to the year for equities, in particular tech and growth shares whose valuations are more vulnerable to rising bond yields.
Alphabet Inc, Apple and Amazon.com Inc fell another 1%-2%, adding to sharp losses this week. All the three main indexes were on course to end the week lower.
At 10:38 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 436.12 points, or 1.25%, at 34,356.64, the S&P 500 was down 48.57 points, or 1.11%, at 4,345.09, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 82.36 points, or 0.63%, at 13,092.29.
Adding to inflation worries, US business activity slowed in April as soaring costs for raw materials, fuel and labor pushed input prices to a record high, according to a survey by S&P Global.
Among companies that reported results, Gap Inc tumbled 17.2% after the apparel company cut its forecast for quarterly sales, blaming execution challenges at its Old Navy brand and “macro-economic dynamics”.
Verizon Communications Inc fell 5.6% after disappointing full-year earnings forecast.
Schlumberger NV gained 5.7% after reporting a higher first-quarter profit, as rising oil prices due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine boosted the demand for oilfield services and equipments.
Of the 99 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings for the first quarter, 77.8% of them have beat market expectations. Typically, 66% of companies beat estimates, according to Refinitiv data.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.76-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.94-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded no new 52-week highs and 14 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 11 new highs and 272 new lows.