Tech stocks drop steeply, offsetting bank and healthcare shares’ rise

The New York Stock Exchange building.
(Richard Drew / Associated Press)
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A steep slide in big technology companies pulled the major U.S. stock indexes mostly lower Wednesday, offsetting strength in banks and healthcare and erasing some of the gains the market made a day earlier.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite, which is the best-performing index this year, had its biggest single-day drop since August as investors cashed in some of their winnings and bid up shares in healthcare companies and retailers, among others.

Bond yields rose following a strong report on third-quarter economic growth in the U.S. That helped banks because they can charge higher interest rates on loans.


The Dow Jones industrial average closed modestly higher, notching a record high for the second straight day, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped less than 1 point.

“The market is flat, but inside the market, lots of change,” said Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Nuveen Asset Management. “People are rotating away from what’s worked so well and buying some of the laggards.”

The S&P 500 index fell 0.97 points, or 0.04%, to 2,626.07. The Dow rose 103.97 points, or 0.4%, to 23,940.68. The Nasdaq dropped 87.97 points, or 1.3%, to 6,824.39. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks ticked up 5.86 points, or 0.4%, to 1,542.30. Rising stocks slightly outpaced declining ones on the New York Stock Exchange.

Signs of a tech sell-off were visible early on Wednesday, as the Nasdaq opened lower.

Amazon, Facebook, Alphabet and other big technology companies gave up some of their recent gains as the sector posted its biggest loss in more than five months. Even so, the sector remains the biggest riser this year, with a gain of 35.7%.

“If you look at any kind of chart, you can see how extended tech was,” Doll said. “People are saying, ‘I’ve made so much money, let me take a little money off the table.’ ”

Amazon slid 2.7% to $1,161.27. Facebook dropped 4% to $175.13. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, declined 2.4% to $1,037.38.


Several chipmakers also slumped. Micron Technology dropped 8.7% to $43.74. Applied Materials fell 7.7% to $52.91. Lam Research declined 8.7% to $194.64.

The market got another batch of encouraging economic news Wednesday.

The Commerce Department estimated that the U.S. economy grew at an annual pace of 3.3% in July through September. That would be the fastest rate in three years. The new estimate helped lift bond yields. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.38% from 2.34%.

Meanwhile, the National Assn. of Realtors said that its pending home sales index surged 3.5% last month. And on Monday, the Commerce Department said sales of new homes jumped in October to their fastest pace in a decade.

Banks and other financial stocks posted solid gains for the second day in a row, getting a boost from rising bond yields. Citizens Financial Group shares climbed 4.9% to $40.67.

Healthcare stocks also posted solid gains. UnitedHealth Group climbed 3.1% to $222.88; it was the biggest riser in the Dow and accounted for almost half of the average’s gain.

Autodesk was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, tumbling 15.9% to $109.34. The design software company slumped after saying it would eliminate 1,150 jobs, or about 13% of its current workforce. Autodesk said the cuts will cost $135 million to $149 million. The company had a disappointing third quarter and gave a weak forecast.


Chipotle Mexican Grill rose 5.6% to $301.99 after saying it’s looking for a new chief executive. The restaurant chain is trying to recover from a sales slump after a series of food safety scares. Founder Steve Ells, who currently serves as chairman and CEO, will transition to executive chairman once someone new is in place at the top post.

Crude oil prices extended their recent losses. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 69 cents, or 1.2%, to settle at $57.30 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 50 cents to $63.11 a barrel in London.

In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline fell 4 cents to $1.73 a gallon. Heating oil fell 3 cents to $1.92 a gallon. Natural gas rose 5 cents, or 1.6%, to $3.18 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold fell $12.80, or 1%, to $1,282.10 an ounce. Silver dropped 37 cents, or 2.2%, to $16.46 an ounce. Copper slid 3 cents to $3.04 a pound.

The dollar rose to 111.82 yen from 111.55 yen. The euro rose to $1.1863 from $1.1837. The pound rose to $1.3424 from $1.3373.

Overseas stock indexes were mixed. Germany’s DAX finished flat, while the CAC 40 of France rose 0.1%, and Britain’s FTSE 100 slid 0.9%. Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.5%, while South Korea’s Kospi edged down 0.1%. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong fell 0.2%. India’s Sensex slipped 0.1%, and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 rose 0.5%.



3 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

This article was originally published at 9:15 a.m.