By David French
(Reuters) – All three Wall Street benchmarks ended higher on Wednesday, rising for a fourth straight session after a turbulent start to the year, aided by upbeat earnings from Google-parent Alphabet and chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices.
But the mood looked sour in post-market trade when Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc shares plunged as much as 22% after it missed on Wall Street earnings estimates and posted a weaker-than-expected forecast.
“It’s a sign of decelerating growth, and people don’t like to see that with growth stocks,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia, of the social media giant’s results.
Other social media companies also fell hard after the bell, including Twitter, Pinterest and Spotify, which also released disappointing results late Wednesday.
Nasdaq futures tumbled 1.8% and S&P 500 futures lost 0.7%, signaling traders expect Wall Street to fall on Thursday.
During the regular session, Alphabet rose 7.5% after reporting record quarterly sales on Tuesday, and said it plans to undertake a 20-to-one stock split – a move which Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for Markets.com, said should make it more appealing to retail investors.
Meta had risen slightly before its results, while Amazon.com Inc dipped 0.4% ahead of its earnings report due on Thursday.
Last month, the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell as much as 19% from its all-time high in November as investors dumped highly valued growth stocks on prospects of faster-than-expected rate hikes.
Traders are betting on five rate hikes this year after hawkish comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve in January.
“There’s a huge portion of the tech market, and the growth market, that is commanding fairly extreme multiples, which probably needs a little air taken out of the tires,” said Jason Pride, chief investment officer of private wealth at Glenmede, adding such a move was “healthy”.
An exception to this, he argued, would be the biggest five or six technology names, given their more modest valuations and better fundamentals.
Tech earnings provide an opportunity for this to happen, with ripple effects being felt by peers.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc climbed 5.1% after the company on Tuesday forecast 2022 revenue above expectations, following strong quarterly demand for its semiconductors, despite global supply snags.
The positive sentiment extended to other chipmakers including Nvidia Corp, Qualcomm Inc and Micron Technology Inc, which advanced between 2.5% and 6.3%.
However, PayPal Holdings Inc slumped 24.6% after it forecast first-quarter revenue and profit well below expectations.
Other financial technology and payments firms were dragged down as a result, with Block Inc, Affirm Holdings Inc and SoFi Technologies falling between 8.4% and 10.6%.
Overall, the only major S&P sector that ended lower was consumer discretionary, which dipped 0.5%. Communication services led gainers, on the back of Alphabet’s performance. It was also aided by Match Group Inc, which rose 5.3% as investors picked up the Tinder owner on a belief that the Omicron variant would not impact its business as much as previously feared.
Only consumer discretionary was lower, down xx%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 224.09 points, or 0.63%, to 35,629.33, the S&P 500 gained 42.84 points, or 0.94%, to 4,589.38 and the Nasdaq Composite added 71.54 points, or 0.5%, to 14,417.55.
Markets in 2022 have been choppy, as investors seek to position themselves for rising rates to tackle inflation, as well as lingering pandemic influences on the economy and geopolitical tension in Europe.
“The markets are trying to piece all this together,” said Pride. “It almost feels like a ‘deer-in-headlights’ effect right now, where there are too many cross-currents to try and triangulate quickly.”
He added the market is likely to bounce around for the immediate future, as investors digest these various inputs.
An unexpected decline in private payrolls on Wednesday helped keep U.S. Treasury yields stable as investors weighed its potential impact on Friday’s broader jobs report.
Banks including JP Morgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc and Bank of America Corp lost ground, falling between 0.1% and 0.8%.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 11.06 billion shares, compared with the 12.43 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.
The S&P 500 posted 27 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 48 new highs and 67 new lows.
(Reporting by, Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Medha Singh in Bengaluru, David French and Alden Bentley in New York, and Noel Randewich in Oakland, California; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Lisa Shumaker)