Stocks Slip as Tech Sells Off


By


Carleton English

, Barbara Kollmeyer, and Jacob Sonenshine

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A large container ship that had run aground blocked Egypt’s Suez Canal.


Media Suez Canal Head Office/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Stocks gave up earlier gains in Wednesday’s afternoon session, as investors sold off tech stocks in favor of those in the energy sector. Wall Street was also keeping an eye on Federal Reserve Chairman
Jerome Powell
and Treasury Secretary
Janet Yellen
‘s testimony, after they spoke before Congress once again.

The 

Dow Jones Industrial Average

 was flat, giving up 3 points in Wednesday’s trading, while the 

S&P 500

 fell 0.6%. Breadth in the S&P 500 narrowed at the end of the day, with 258 stocks finishing up and 243 down.

Meanwhile, the

Nasdaq Composite

slid 2%.

Etsy

(ticker: ETSY) shares fell 9.3%, while Tesla (TSLA) shares were off by 4.8%.

In Wednesday’s testimony before the Senate, Powell reiterated that the Fed will continue to provide the economy the support it needs. Rates slid Wednesday, with the 10-year Treasury yield hovering around 1.614%.

Overseas, Germany canceled a five-day lockdown it had planned for the Easter holiday just one day after announcing it.

The

Stoxx Europe 600 index

was flat, while Asian stocks finished mostly lower, led by 2% declines each for the

Nikkei 225

and

Hang Seng

indexes. Worries that new Covid-19 restrictions rolling out across Germany and the Netherlands would crimp economic recoveries had helped drive losses for global assets on Tuesday.

Fresh data showed a preliminary “flash” reading of the IHS Markit eurozone composite purchasing managers index rising to 52.5 in March from 48.8 in February. The rise above 50.0 marked the first gain in business activity since September 2020. But separately on Wednesday, German economic research group Ifo cut its growth forecast for that economy.

Oil prices were also in focus a day after tumbling 6% into correction territory amid fears that Covid-19 lockdowns would crimp demand and a fast rebound. Both U.S. crude and Brent oil prices recouped some of those losses on Wednesday, up over 5% each after a massive cargo ship got stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal, a vital waterway for global shipments. Energy stocks ticked up with

EOG Resources

(ticker: EOG) rising 4.1% and

Phillips 66

(PSX) popping 3.9%.

Among stocks to watch, shares of

Intel

(INTC) fell 2.3% after Chief Executive
Pat Gelsinger
 committed the chip maker to spending billions to expand its manufacturing footprint. That had a positive read-across for some European chip names, such as ASML International and

ASML,

with those shares each up by 3% or more.


ViacomCBS

(VIAC) shares plunged 23.2% after announcing a $3 billion secondary offering.

Discovery (DISCK) shares also fell, sliding 13.4% in Wednesday’s trading following a downgrade from UBS.


General Mills

(GIS) shares were off by 4.2% after third quarter earnings came in weaker than expected.


GameStop

(GME) shares tumbled 33.8% after the videogames retailer and one of Wall Street’s most popular meme stocks reported fiscal fourth-quarter results late on Tuesday that came in just short of expectations.


Zscaler

 (ZS) shares slid 4.3% despite Truist upgrading the stock to Buy from Hold.


Estee Lauder

 (EL) shares rose 1.3% after Wells Fargo upgraded the stock to Overweight from Equal Weight.


Alcoa

 (AA) climbed 4.9% after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to Overweight from Equal Weight.


Freeport McMoRan

(FCX) shares fell 1.8% following a downgrade to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Write to Carleton English at carleton.english@dowjones.com