S&P, Nasdaq fall as Apple drags, jobless claims data fuels rate jitters
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq fell on Thursday with Apple leading declines in megacap growth stocks on concerns over China’s iPhone curbs, while a fall in weekly jobless claims stoked worries about sticky inflation.
Apple declined for a second day, down 3.3%, on news that China has widened curbs on the use of iPhones by state employees, requiring staff at some central government agencies to stop using their mobile phones at work.
Bloomberg on Thursday reported that China planned to broaden the iPhone ban to state firms and agencies.
Growth stocks Tesla, Nvidia and Netflix also fell between 1.4% and 3.1%.
“The nature of this announcement seems to have refocused investors that the relationship between the U.S. and China is a big risk to current equity prices, particularly in technology,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments.
Shares of Apple suppliers including Skyworks Solutions, Qualcomm and Qorvo slid between 7.1% and 7.6%.
The S&P 500 information technology index fell 1.9% while the Philadelphia semiconductor index dropped 2.8%.
Fueling concerns about interest rates staying elevated for longer, a Labor Department report showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment claims fell to 216,000 for the week ended Sept. 2, hitting their lowest level since February.
Expectations that the Fed was nearing the end of its rate-hike cycle have been watered down in recent days by stronger-than-expected U.S. economic data.
Traders’ bets on the Fed leaving interest rates unchanged in September stood at 93%, while their odds for a pause in the November meeting were at 54.1%, down from nearly 59% a week earlier, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch Tool.
Further denting sentiment, data showed China’s exports and imports fell in August, with sagging overseas demand and weak consumer spending hitting businesses in the world’s second-largest economy.
Shares of U.S.-listed Chinese firms including PDD Holdings, JD.com, Baidu and Alibaba fell between 3.7% and 5.7%.
While Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker did not comment on the likely U.S. monetary policy path, investors remain focused on other Fed speakers later in the day, including policy voting member and New York Fed President John Williams.
At 11:53 a.m. ET, the S&P 500 was down 21.95 points, or 0.49%, at 4,443.53, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 176.52 points, or 1.27%, at 13,695.95.
Despite losses in Apple, which ranks eleventh in terms of weightage on the Dow Jones, the cyclicals-heavy index was up 38.25 points, or 0.11%, at 34,481.44.
The weightage of a stock on the Dow is proportional to its share value as opposed to the market capitalization-weighted S&P 500.
Also keeping the Dow afloat was a near 1% rise in McDonald’s after Wells Fargo upgraded the stock to “overweight”.
Automation software firm UiPath added 9.1% on an upbeat annual revenue forecast.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 1.81-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 2.37-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 10 new 52-week highs and 23 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 16 new highs and 212 new lows.