S&P500, Nasdaq Lower Again as Tech Shares Fall
New York (Mar 7) Stocks extended losses by late in Monday's session as high-momentum names in the tech space weighed on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.
The S&P 500 was down 0.4%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat, and the Nasdaq fell 0.82%.
Apple (AAPL) dragged on the tech sector after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the tech giant regarding allegations of e-book price fixing. Apple must now pay $450 million to end the suit, the bulk of which will be distributed to e-book customers. Shares were down 1.5%.
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Other major tech companies including Amazon (AMZN) , Alphabet (GOOGL) , Microsoft (MSFT) and Facebook (FB) slid, while the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) fell 1.2%. Alphabet and Facebook are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS portfolio.
The Fed must be patient in its approach to further rate hikes after making liftoff last December, urged Fed Gov. Lael Brainard in prepared remarks Monday.
"Tighter financial conditions and softer inflation expectations may pose risks to the downside for inflation and domestic activity," Brainard said in a speech to a banking conference in Washington, D.C. "From a risk-management perspective, this argues for patience as the outlook becomes clearer."
The Fed will convene for a two-day meeting to discuss monetary policy in a week's time. The majority of economists don't expect central bank members to make a move during their meeting.
Crude oil closed at its best level of the year on forecasts U.S. shale output will continue to fall over the next month. The Energy Information Administration predicts U.S. shale oil production will fall by 106,000 barrels a day in April, a relief to current oversupply. West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed 5.5% higher at $37.90 a barrel.
The basic materials sector was the best performer on markets Monday, led by gains among Rio Tinto (RIO) , BHP Billiton (BHP) , and Vale (VALE) . The Materials Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLB) added 1.1%.
Energy stocks were also higher, including Exxon Mobil (XOM) , Chevron (CVX) , and ConocoPhillips (COP) . The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) rose 1.8%.
Stocks enjoyed a strong start to March last week, rallying over the first four days of the month. The S&P 500 climbed nearly 3% last week in its third straight week of gains after a stronger-than-expected jobs report.
"Last week, stocks soared again as oil prices pushed higher and U.S. data reflected an economy nowhere near recession," Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Asset Management, wrote in a note. "The February jobs report was mostly viewed as positive, despite continued sluggish wage growth."
China's Shanghai Composite climbed on hopes for further stimulus from its central bank after growth projections came in on the low side. China's Premier Li Keqiang lowered Beijing's official growth target to 6.5% to 7%, down from last year's rough 7% estimate. Li also promised more market-opening reforms for the world's second-largest economy, including opening up the oil and telecom industries to private competitors. China's annual National People's Congress is currently underway.
Exelon (EXC) and Pepco (POM) were both higher after the companies proposed measured that could appease regulators looking into their $6.8-billion merger. Among its proposals, the utilities companies offered $25.6 million in funds to offset rate increases for residential customers, particularly low-income families.
DuPont (DD) rose more than 2% on reports German chemicals company BASF is interested in making a bid for the company. Any offer would act as a counterbid to a previous agreement DuPont made to merge with Dow Chemical (DOW) in December. Dow Chemical is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS portfolio.
AMC Networks (AMC) climbed after committing to repurchase $500 million of stock. The new share buyback program represents 10% of its current market value.
Sprint (S) rose more than 4% after controlling shareholder Softbank (SFTBF) announced plans to split into two companies. The Japanese telecom will split its overseas holdings, including Sprint and Alibaba (BABA) , from its domestic businesses.
Marvell Technology (MRVL - Get Report) added 2% on reports it is open to a sale. The semiconductor company is exploring a potential sale not long after settling a $750 million patent dispute with Carnegie Mellon University, according to The New York Post. Avago Technologies (AVGO - Get Report) is a possible interested party, according to the paper.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX - Get Report) was up 2.4% after setting March 15 as the date it will disclose its fourth-quarter earnings and 2016 outlook. The drugmaker had initially planned to report earnings at the end of February, but delayed the release and withdrew previous full-year guidance.
Activist hedge fund Starboard Value will reportedly push for control of Yahoo!'s (YHOO - Get Report) board in talks scheduled for this week, according to Reuters. Starboard is seeking at least four board seats, more than half of the current number on Yahoo!'s board. Yahoo! has set a March 26 deadline for major shareholders to submit board of director nominees.
Walt Disney's (DIS - Get Report) Zootopia ruled the weekend box office, surpassing 21st Century Fox's (FOXA) Deadpool. The animated film earned $73.7 million in ticket sales in North America over the weekend, scoring the fourth biggest March opening ever. Deadpool had ruled the weekend box office for the previous three weeks.