Thanks to fresh blows to companies from Nvidia to Facebook, the biggest industry in the S&P 500 index dropped 3.5 percent Tuesday.
Blame it on tech stocks — again.
Thanks to fresh blows to companies from Nvidia to Facebook, the biggest industry in the S&P 500 index dropped 3.5 percent Tuesday, the biggest decline since the broad market sell-off reached its worst point Feb. 8. The Nasdaq 100 Index sank 3.3 percent, posting its ninth decline in 11 days.
The broad tech decline — which came a day after the major stock indexes notched their best day in more than two years after a steep slide last week — knocked 344 points, or 1.4 percent, off the Dow Jones industrial average and 45 points, or 1.7 percent, from the Standard & Poor’s 500.
While the tech-stock loss pales in comparison to last week’s worst tumble since 2015, the renewed weakness underscores the vulnerability in an industry whose growth prospects have lured investors, spurring stock gains that have doubled the market in the past three years. That leadership has been threatened in the past year as the government stepped up regulations and strategists warned of the risk of momentum unwinding.
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“Growth was the thing to buy,” said Gary Bradshaw, a portfolio manager at Hodges Capital Management in Dallas. “Now the markets are starting to see some chips in the armor. The market is questioning the steadiness of the technology sector, although we still think it’s going to be just fine.”
Most pronounced Tuesday was the sell-off in the FANG block of tech shares — Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google parent Alphabet — and its megacap brethren. The NYSE FANG+ index (the FANG four plus Apple, Alibaba, Baidu, Nvidia, Tesla and Twitter) plunged 5.6 percent, its biggest drop on record.
Facebook, under growing criticism that the social-media company has failed to protect user privacy, extended its worst quarterly decline since 2012 as Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is expected to testify before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. The stock tumbled 4.9 percent Tuesday, closing at the lowest level since July.
Nvidia, the graphics chipmaker that has been seeking to expand in the automotive market, fell 7.8 percent after temporarily suspending its self-driving-vehicle testing.
Twitter led the plunge, sinking 12 percent after Citron Research disclosed a short bet on the stock and said the company is the most vulnerable to “privacy regulation” among social-media peers. Google parent Alphabet fell 4.6 percent.
Netflix, the second-best- performing stock in the S&P 500 this year, fell 6.1 percent in a rare pullback. The stock is still up 57 percent for the year.
Tesla sank 8.2 percent on growing doubts over delivery rates for its new electric-car model and news that the National Transportation Safety Board has sent two investigators to look into a fatal crash and fire Friday in California that involved a Tesla electric SUV.
Apple held up the best among tech megacaps, although it still fell 2.6 percent, after releasing a new iPad focused on schools and a new education service called Schoolwork at an event in Chicago.
Amazon lost 3.8 percent. Microsoft — another Seattle area tech company, but not in the FANG index — dropped 4.6 percent.
Some analysts thought the plunge of the tech megacaps was long overdue.
The FANG index’s advance from early 2016 through this month’s peak reached an annualized rate of 67 percent, outpacing even the Nasdaq composite index’s return in the final two years of the dot-com bubble.
There is also a valuation case to be made for the intensified selling.
While the FANG companies’ dominance in areas from social media to e-commerce will foster faster growth, their multiples are eye-watering.
At 65 times earnings in mid March, the group was valued almost three times as richly as the S&P 500 index. That’s comparable with tech stocks in March 2000.
Since peaking March 12, the FANG index has fallen in all but three days, sliding 12 percent along the way. Tuesday’s drop wiped off about $180 billion in market value.