NEW YORK: Wall Street's main indexes slipped on Friday, dragged down by losses in blue-chip technology stalwarts Intel and IBM following their quarterly results, as hopes dim for a full economic reopening in the coming months.
IBM Corp slumped 9.83% and was the top drag on the Dow Jones Industrial Average after it missed estimates for quarterly revenue, hurt by a rare sales decline in its software unit.
Intel Corp shed 8.93% as new Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger's (PIC BELOW) post-earnings comments suggested the lack of a strong embrace of outsourcing.
"The challenge for the (tech) industry at this point in earnings season, is how much of their earnings growth expectations were pulled into 2020 and may not be available in 2021," said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Seattle.
However, losses in the tech sector were offset by gains from Microsoft Corp, Apple Inc and Facebook Inc, keeping the declines on the main U.S. stock indexes in check.
Shares of energy, financial, and industrial and consumer discretion, which have been among the best performing sectors since the U.S. elections in November, fell the most on Friday.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq pared some losses after the opening bell as data showed U.S. manufacturing activity surprisingly surged to its highest level in more than 13-1/2-years in early January, in contrast to a disappointing result in the purchasing manager data in Europe earlier.
By 2:18PM ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 121.68 points, or 0.39%, to 31,054.33, the S&P 500 lost 9.35 points, or 0.24%, to 3,843.72 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 14.42 points, or 0.11%, to 13,516.49.
Despite the weakness, the three major indexes were set for weekly gains, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq tracking for its best weekly performance since Nov. 6 as investors piled into Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc in anticipation of their earnings reports in the coming weeks.
With stock valuations nearing levels not seen since the Dotcom era, some market participants said new COVID-19 variants and hiccups in vaccine rollouts pose near-term risks.
In a White House event on Thursday, President Joe Biden said the U.S. death toll from the pandemic will probably top 500,000 next month.
"If we're forced to keep the economy closed and it takes longer than we want to get through immunizations and vaccinations for the coronavirus, that's going to be a little rougher on the market than people apparently anticipated," said Haworth.
The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved Janet Yellen's nomination as the first woman Treasury secretary, indicating that she will easily win full Senate approval.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.54-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.21-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 12 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 128 new highs and 6 new lows.- rEUTERS