Written by Edward Smith
Technology companies led stocks lower on Wall Street Wednesday, ending a four-day winning streak for the market, after an economic report stoked worries about the health of the economy.
The S&P 500 fell 0.6% after having been down nearly 1.1% at one point. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.2%, making it nearly all the way back from a 0.7% loss. The pullback was the indexes’ first lower close in five days. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 1.2%.
New data from the Commerce Department Wednesday showed the U.S. economy grew at an annual pace of 6.9% from October through December, slower than previous estimates and short of economists expectations.
The data, coming in the midst of a rebound for stocks the past two weeks, may have led investors to recoup some recent gains, said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist, CFRA..
“The GDP numbers were weaker than we were expecting,” Stovall said. “It looks looks like we’re getting a soft patch in the first quarter.”
The S&P 500 fell 29.15 points to 4,602.45. The Dow slid 65.38 points to 35,228.81. The Nasdaq lost 177.36 points to 14,442.27.
In a reversal from a day earlier, smaller company stocks fell more than the broader market. The Russell 2000 index skidded 42.03 points, or 2%, to 2,091.07.
Markets have mostly gained ground this week as talks between Russia and Ukraine seemed to show progress and following encouraging data on consumer confidence.
Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine remain uncertain, however, and Russian shelling in areas where it had said it would pull back tempered optimism about prospects for a resolution to the conflict.
Technology stocks were among the biggest weights on the broader market. Many of the companies in the sector have lofty values that tend have an outsize effect on which way market indexes go. Chipmaker Nvidia fell 3.4%.
Retailers also fell. Home Depot slipped 2.9%.
Oil prices, which have been volatile since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, gained ground. U.S. benchmark crude oil rose 3.4% and Brent crude, the international standard, rose 2.9%. Energy stocks gained ground along with rising oil prices. Phillips 66 rose 4.8%.
Bond yields fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which influences interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans, slipped to 2.35% from 2.40% late Tuesday.
Bond yields have been mostly rising this year as Wall Street prepares for a shift in policy from the Federal Reserve. The central bank, along with its global counterparts, is raising benchmark interest rates to help fight persistently rising inflation.
Wall Street is also closely watching the bond market for clues about the economy’s path. On Tuesday, the yield for 10-year Treasury briefly dropped below the 2-year Treasury’s yield, what Wall Street calls an “inversion” of the Treasury yield curve. Investors take note of this because prolonged yield inversions have accurately predicted previous U.S. recessions. The 2-year Treasury yield fell to 2.33% from 2.35% late Tuesday.
Investors have several more economic updates to review this week. On Thursday, the Commerce Department will release its personal income and spending report for February and the Labor Department on Friday will release is employment report for March.
Wall Street is also preparing for the latest round of corporate report cards as the quarter comes to a close. Several companies have already released financial results and updates.
Athletic apparel maker Lululemon jumped 9.6% after reporting encouraging financial results for its most recent quarter and giving a strong sales forecast. Online pet store Chewy slumped 16.1% after reporting a fiscal fourth-quarter loss that was steeper than analysts expected.