Dow climbs in early Friday action as Wall Street attempts to cap tumultuous trading week with an upswing


Stock benchmarks on Friday rose modestly higher as investors looked to close out a volatile, holiday-shortened week that has the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite on track for its biggest weekly loss since the height of the pandemic-induced market selloff in March.

How are major benchmarks trading?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
+0.19%

rose 117 points, or 0.4%, to around 27,650, while the S&P 500
SPX,
+0.07%

gained 14 points, or 0.4%, to trade at 3,353. The Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
-0.09%

climbed 48 points, or 0.5%, at 10,952. But all three benchmarks were trading off their intraday peak near the open, highlighting the week’s choppy action.

The Dow on Thursday fell 405.89 points, or 1.5%, to close at 27,534.58, while the S&P 500 ended with a loss of 59.77 points, or 1.8%, at 3,339.19. The Nasdaq Composite fell 221.97 points, or 2%, to finish at 10,919.59. Through Thursday, the Dow was down 2.1% for the week, while the S&P 500 was off 2.6% and the Nasdaq was 3.5% lower; markets were closed Monday for Labor Day.

What’s driving the market?

A decline in the S&P 500 index for the week would mark the benchmark’s first back-to-back weekly drop since May.

“While monetary policy is set to remain supportive for several more quarters, valuations are high across assets and volatility is resurfacing,” said Elia Lattuga, co-head of strategy research at UniCredit Bank, in a note. “The breadth of the rally is still limited and the recovery uneven—hence developments in the economic outlook and political risks represent significant threats to risk appetite.”

Stocks were unable to follow through Thursday on a Wednesday bounce that saw equities recover somewhat from a three-day, tech-led rout that pushed the Nasdaq into correction territory, falling more than 10% from its record close set last week.

Weakness on Thursday was partly tied to the inability of U.S. politicians to agree on a new coronavirus rescue package after Democrats blocked a Republican bill on the Senate floor, leaving the way forward unclear, analysts said.

Meanwhile, investors have fretted that the sharp rally that took stocks from their March pandemic lows to new all-time highs had left valuations significantly stretched for the large-cap, tech-related stocks that had led the rally this year. Among those highfliers, shares of Apple Inc.
AAPL,
-0.85%

 and Netflix Inc.
NFLX,
+1.22%

 were on track for weekly declines of more than 6%, while Facebook Inc.
FB,
-0.57%

 is off more than 5%.

In U.S. economic news, the consumer-price index for August rose 0.4% last month, beating average economists’ estimates for a rise of 0.3% but falling below the past two months at 0.6%. On a year-over-year basis, the CPI increased 1.3% after gaining 1.0% in July, the Labor Department said on Friday

Looking ahead, Federal budget figures for August are due at 2 p.m. Eastern.

Which companies are in focus?
What are other markets doing?

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
TMUBMUSD10Y,
0.675%

 rose 0.4 basis point to 0.687%. Bond prices move inversely to yields.

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index
DXY,
-0.12%
,
which tracks the performance of the greenback against its major rivals, fell 0.1%.

Gold futures
GCZ20,
-0.08%

were off 0.3% at $1,958 an ounce, threatening to snap a three-day winning streak. The U.S. crude oil benchmark
CL.1,
-0.10%

 fell 16 cents, or 0.5%, to $37.13 a barrel.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index
SXXP,
-0.11%

 was edging 0.1% lower, while the U.K.’s benchmark FTSE
UKX,
-0.26%

rose 0.2%. In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index
HSI,
+0.78%

and the Shanghai Composite Index
SHCOMP,
+0.78%

 both rose 0.8%, while Japan’s Nikkei
NIK,
+0.73%

rose 0.7%.



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The current sell-off may end up emboldening the bulls, if the last tech bubble is a guide


The bubble isn’t burst yet.


Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Traders at the moment seem to have as much patience with tech stocks as Kansas City Chiefs fans do for a moment of unity.

Thursday was the fourth ugly finish in five sessions, with the Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
-1.99%

skidding 2%, and the other major indexes backtracking as well.

Andrea Cicione, head of strategy at independent investment research firm TS Lombard, said excessive leverage in the market really began in earnest in July. Cicione added that was occurring in U.S. stocks wasn’t happening anywhere else in the world.

And while he’s seeing signs of a bubble, he thinks if the selling doesn’t intensify, the bubble may reflate soon.

“The leverage accumulation so far may not be enough to burst the bubble just yet,” he writes. “If the recent selloff does not intensify further, the whole episode may end up simply emboldening the bulls to buy the dip and take even more risk.”

Between 1997 and 1998, the Nasdaq experienced three sell-offs of at least 17%, only to emerge stronger and rise four-fold to the 2000 peak. “Leverage is a key characteristic of all bubbles, and almost invariably it is the mechanism that leads to their collapse. But there may not have been enough leverage for the dot-com 2.0 bubble to burst just yet,” he says.

The reason leverage is important in bursting bubbles is because it uniquely can lead to forced unwinding. “When faced with margin calls they cannot meet, investors may have to liquidate positions against their will. The resulting fall in prices can instil doubts in the mind of others, persuading them to sell,” he said.

The buzz

Consumer price data for August is due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

The quarterly services survey and August budget deficit are also due for release. The Congressional Budget Office, which typically gets the budget picture pretty close to the mark, estimated the August deficit was $198 billion, and said the September-ending fiscal year gap will be the highest relative to the economy since 1945.

Database software giant Oracle
ORCL,
+0.66%

topped earnings and revenue expectations, helped by revenue from key client Zoom Video Communications
ZM,
-1.32%
.
Oracle also declined to discuss whether it will buy the U.S. operations of social-media company TikTok, as U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday there will be no extension of the Sept. 15 deadline for it to be sold to a U.S. company or shut.

Peloton Interactive
PTON,
-3.75%
,
the exercise bicycle company, reported stronger-than-forecast fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and revenue, with its current year outlook also well ahead of estimates.

Jean-Sébastien Jacques, the chief executive of mining giant Rio Tinto
RIO,
-1.67%
,
announced he will resign in March following the controversy over the firm blowing up ancient caves while excavating for iron ore.

Thursday marked the first day since spring when new coronavirus cases in the European Union and the U.K. exceeded the United States.

The market

U.S. stock futures
ES00,
+0.65%

NQ00,
+0.64%

were stronger.

Gold futures
GCZ20,
-0.46%

fell while oil futures
CL.1,
+0.21%

edged higher.

The British pound
GBPUSD,
+0.18%

continues to reel from its more combative stance taken against the European Union in trade negotiations.

The chart

This incredible UBS illustration of Tesla
TSLA,
+1.38%

shows how shares have performed compared to other tech giants since joining the $100 billion market cap club. It took Apple
AAPL,
-3.26%
,
Alphabet
GOOGL,
-1.36%

and Facebook
FB,
-2.05%

between 4 to 11 years to achieve what Tesla did in three quarters. UBS increased its Tesla price target to $325 from $160 ahead of the company’s battery day presentation.

Random reads

Here’s the 2010 memo from a venture capital firm on an investment which valued retail software maker Shopify at $25 million. Shopify
SHOP,
-1.59%

is now worth $114 billion.

China said its U.K. ambassador’s Twitter account was hacked — after a steamy post was liked.

An experimental treatment kept mice strong in space, one that could have uses back on Earth.

Need to Know starts early and is updated until the opening bell, but sign up here to get it delivered once to your email box. The emailed version will be sent out at about 7:30 a.m. Eastern.



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When the Nasdaq has had as ugly a start to September as it just had, it has always finished the month lower


Technology stocks got wrecked Tuesday on Wall Street, and that bodes ill for the rest of the month, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

The decline in the Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
-4.11%

pushed the tech-heavy index into a correction, commonly defined as a drop of at least 10%, but no more than 20%, from a recent peak, and reaffirmed the bearish view that tech-related stocks had mounted too brisk a run-up in the aftermath of the worst public-health crisis in a century.

Tuesday’s bitter slump, resulting in a 4.1% drop for the Nasdaq Composite, marked the worst start to the index in September, a notoriously weak month for U.S. equities, on record. The index has sunk 10% over the past three sessions, following a record close Sept. 2.

And the stats for the outlook for the market appear to show that it’s tough for the index to recover from the likes of the downturn it just faced.

When the Nasdaq has previously tumbled by at least 4% in the first five days of September, it has ended lower. The Nasdaq has booked five Septembers since 1974 (not including Tuesday’s drop) in which it registered declines of at least 4%, and in four of those five declines — 1974, 2000, 2001 and 2008 — the equity benchmark added to its losses (see attached chart):


Dow Jones Market Data

To be sure, that’ s hardly a significant sample size, but it’s still a stat worth considering as the market looks to right itself following three withering days for formerly high-flying tech stocks.

The moves by the Nasdaq Composite may also have broader implications for the market as a whole, since buzzy tech-related names like Tesla Inc.
TSLA,
-21.06%
,
Apple Inc.
AAPL,
-6.72%
,
Amazon.com Inc.
AMZN,
-4.39%
,
Facebook Inc.
FB,
-4.09%
,
Google parent Alphabet Inc.
GOOG,
-3.68%

GOOGL,
-3.64%
,
and Netflix Inc.
NFLX,
-1.75%
,
which have represented the handful of mega-capitalization companies that have all helped to power this resurgence in equities in the throes of a pandemic, all are sitting on multiday losing streaks.

Although bullish investors hope that the declines in the index helped to clear away some of the frothiness that had accumulated since the March lows for the stock market, there are some concerns that the tech wreckage could portend longer-term bad news for the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-2.24%

and the S&P 500 index
SPX,
-2.77%
,
which also skidded by more than 2% on Tuesday.



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Investing legend known for his annual predictions says the world could be in for a big surprise — in a good way


Byron Wien


Bloomberg

Blackstone’s
BX,
-3.45%

Byron Wien has been offering up his list of potential surprises for decades now. As with even the most prescient of Wall Street pundits, he’s got plenty of misfires to go along with his hits, but CNBC’s Jim Cramer once said, “you can make a fortune” from Wien’s work.

So, in that spirit, what’s his latest take on the market?

Well, back in January, Wien was bearish on electric cars, bullish on the economy and predicted that volatility
VIX,
+3.18%

would ultimately slam the markets. Now, with his batch of calls yielding mixed results, Wien offered up a taste of what he sees in the coming months.


‘A big surprise on a global level is if there were more harmony between China and the West. The hostility between the two largest economies in the world is not good for the markets. So if there would be some reconciliation or some rapprochement between the U.S. and China that would restore normal relations, it would be interpreted favorably by the financial markets. That’s unlikely in a Trump presidency. It’s more likely, but not certain, in a Biden presidency.’

That’s how Wien responded when asked his thoughts looking forward in an interview published over the long weekend. While thawing relations between China and the U.S. might eventually provide a boost to markets, for now, it’s rough going out there.

“There’s a lot of speculation going on. That’s probably not a healthy thing,” he said, adding that he sees the economy rebounding more slowly than most expect. “The market is vulnerable.”

Wien said the common train of thought is that the economy isn’t doing as well as the financial markets, but he doesn’t see it that way.

“There really isn’t a disconnect,” he said. “Individual investors are propelling the market to new highs, and they are doing it by pushing up the prices of the internet related stocks, the stocks that are benefiting from people working at home. “

Wien also threw water on the comparisons between today and the dot-com bubble, saying he believes every market cycle to be different.

“In the late nineties, the dot-com bubble was fueled by a real breakthrough in technology, the advent of the internet. It was changing people’s lives, and that was a positive change. It just got carried to excess,” he said. “Today, this is a different thing. It’s a negative surprise: A virus that is going to change the way we live, and it’s difficult to assess the long-term implications of it.”

Wien said, from his perspective, that stocks are overpriced, but not as “outrageously” as they were back then. Hence, he doesn’t see an imminent bear market.

As for the economy, the healing could take a while, and, according to Wien, it depends on an effective vaccine, which may or may not arrive by the end of the year — a time frame that he believes the stock market is already pricing in.

“That’s a realistic assumption,” he said. “But I don’t think that people like me will get it until the end of next year. So a return to normal is a 2022 phenomenon. At best, the economy is a quarter or one third of the way back to normal.”

What’s an investors to do in the meantime?

“There is a good part of the market that’s underpriced,” he said. “Airlines, transportation and hospitality have performed poorly, and some represent good value for patient investors who can tolerate the risk as a part of their portfolio.”

Patience was needed Tuesday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-2.24%
,
Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
-4.11%

and S&P 500
SPX,
-2.77%

were all firmly in negative territory.



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New China ban threat puts U.S. chip-equipment makers at forefront of tech stock rout



MARKETWATCH PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/ISTOCKPHOTO

Chip equipment makers led technology stocks lower Tuesday following reports that U.S. sanctions could spread to businesses like Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., China’s largest chip fabricator.

Shares of KLA Corp.
KLAC,
-7.74%
,
Lam Research Corp.
LRCX,
-6.86%
,
and Applied Materials Inc. AMAT all fell more than 6% as U.S. stock markets opened on Tuesday following Labor Day holiday weekend, while the PHLX Semiconductor Index SOX was down nearly 3%.

Over the weekend, reports surfaced that SMIC could be added to a U.S. “entity list” like telecom equipment maker Huawei back in May. On Monday, when U.S. markets were closed, SMIC
981,
+3.07%

shares dropped more than 20% in Hong Kong trading.

Meanwhile, the U.S. tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
-2.33%

was down 2.6% and the S&P 500 index
SPX,
-1.50%

was off 1.8% Tuesday.

Investors may be worrying that SMIC is just another one of many Chinese companies to get added to the list, given President Donald Trump’s recent bellicosity toward Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat .

“Will the Trump Administration stop with only Huawei and SMIC?” speculated Evercore ISI analyst C.J. Muse in a Tuesday note. “Hard to say,” he said, warning that other chip makers in China could be next. Should the potential ban be limited to SMIC, then chip-related stocks have been oversold, Muse said.

Tech stocks have been getting battered since last week, when the tech sector gave up in two sessions at least half of seven week’s worth of gains from a strong earnings season .

Morgan Stanley analyst Joseph Moore said adding SMIC to the list “certainly would be a negative impact to our semiconductor capital equipment coverage”. Moore noted that SMIC had plans of spending $6.7 billion in capital equipment this year alone.

“The bigger issue is that the China risk factor for semiconductor capital equipment continues to grow, as U.S. Commerce Department actions continue to impact new areas,” Moore said.

Susquehanna Financial analyst Mehdi Hosseini took a much less fearful view of the development, remarking that “policy has also proven a double edged sword as efforts of the past few years in isolating China have not really proven a winning strategy”.

Hosseini said “with secular trends suggesting a bright future for chip consumption and thus [semiconductor capital equipment], especially as more of the demand shifts to cloud/commercial end markets, the pull backs caused by such headline risks can also offer a buying opportunity, in our view.



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