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Stock market news live updates: Stocks log third straight day of losses as technology stocks slide

·Reporter
·10-min read
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Stocks logged a third straight day of declines as inflation concerns persisted.

[Click here to read what's moving markets heading into Thursday, May 20]

The Nasdaq underperformed, and the index opened lower by more than 1.5% before paring some losses. The S&P 500 and Dow were also off sharply. Cryptocurrencies sold off, with bitcoin (BTC-USD) sinking more than 17% to trade below $38,000, or the lowest level since February, and ethereum (ETH-USD) plunging 21% to below $3,800. The moves lower extended a recent bout of volatility and were exacerbated after the People's Bank of China doubled down on its stance that cryptocurrencies could not be used for payments.

Leadership in equity markets has see-sawed between cyclical and value stocks and technology shares, as investors consider prospects for a strong economic rebound, but also the possibility that the pick-up in activity generates a surge in inflation that ultimately weighs on the recovery. So far this month, those concerns have won out and dragged on the indexes, with the S&P 500 down 1.3% for May-to-date and the Nasdaq down 4.7%. 

"We've been telling our clients that we're probably entering a period where there's going to be increased chop going forward," Matt Orton, Carillon Tower Advisors, told Yahoo Finance. "We've had a pretty extreme rotation from growth into value. We've seen fits and starts of rotating back into the growth."

"Now investors need to digest what could potentially be happening with inflation," he added. "But what we like to remind folks is that as we move sideways, any sort of meaningful downside you see should be used opportunistically, because earnings have been strong, guidance from companies has been incredibly strong going forward. The economy is starting to accelerate as we reopen. So there's a lot of reasons to continue owning equities, and it's all about having a game plan." 

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve released its April meeting minutes Wednesday afternoon, showing that "participants generally noted that the economy remained far from the Committee’s maximum-employment and price-stability goals," and suggesting that they did not believe a near-term adjustment to monetary policy was not imminent. However, the minutes covered the Federal Open Market Committee's meeting from before the release of the much weaker-than-expected April jobs report and government print showing a much greater-than-expected increase in consumer prices, rendering them somewhat outdated. 

4:03 p.m. ET: Stocks fall for a third straight session: Dow drops 163 points, or 0.5%

Here were the main moves in markets as of 4:03 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -12.04 (-0.29%) to 4,115.79

  • Dow (^DJI): -163.17 (-0.48%) to 33,897.49

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -3.90 (-0.03%) to 13,299.74

  • Crude (CL=F): -$2.17 (-3.31%) to $63.32 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$3.60 (+0.19%) to $1,871.60 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +4.1 bps to yield 1.6830%

2:04 p.m. ET: Fed meeting minutes showed most FOMC members thought economy 'remained far from' inflation, employment goals 

The Federal Reserve's April meeting minutes Wednesday afternoon reinforced that most Federal Open Market Committee members did not think QE tapering or rate increases were needed in the near-term, given the distance the economy still needs to make up to reach the Fed's employment and price stability goals. 

"Participants observed that economic activity had picked up sharply this year, with robust gains in consumer spending, housing-sector activity, business equipment investment, and manufacturing production," according to the minutes. "They noted that the acceleration in economic activity reflected positive developments associated with the rapid pace of vaccinations as well as continued support from fiscal and monetary policies. Nevertheless, participants generally noted that the economy remained far from the Committee’s maximum-employment and price-stability goals." 

12:31 p.m. ET: Pullback this week is 'not necessarily threatening technically important lines of support: Strategist 

Wednesday's stock drop put the three major indexes on pace for a third straight day of losses, as well as their fifth down day over the past seven sessions. However, some strategists said the pullback was to be expected given the strength of the run-up so far this year up until May, and noted it did not reflect a worsening in economic or company fundamentals. 

“The pullback here has gotten a little deeper over the last couple of trading sessions, not necessarily threatening technically important lines of support,” Mark Luschini, Janney Montgomery Scott chief investment strategist, told Yahoo Finance. "We bounced off [the lows] on an intraday basis today. We'll see if it holds or if we need to do a little bit more work on the downside to kind of flush out some of the sentiment that'd gotten perhaps a little bit overly exuberant relative to this advance that we've had earlier this year."

"In the context of the market, we're still up over 8% on a year-to-date basis. The economic conditions fundamentally are still very supportive for stock prices," he added. "We had, once again, a little concern here recently on inflation. Obviously the big risk at the moment is that it's not so transitory in nature and that it persists at more elevated levels even as we lap the effects of a year ago. And that, the jury is still out on." 

12:13 p.m. ET: Stocks hold lower, but come off session lows

Here's where markets were trading as of 12:13 p.m. ET: 

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -33.55 points (-0.81%) to 4,094.28

  • Dow (^DJI): -323.71 points (-0.95%) to 33,736.95

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -85.51 points (-0.64%) to 13,218.65 

  • Crude (CL=F): -$2.47 (-3.77%) to $63.02 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$17.60 (+0.94%) to $1,885.60 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -0.7 bps to yield 1.635%

10:47 a.m. ET: Coinbase, Binance see service disruptions as crypto sell-off intensifies

Major cryptocurrency platforms including Binance and Coinbase (COIN) experienced service disruptions as volatility in bitcoin (BTC-USD), ethereum (ETH-USD) and other cryptocurrencies skyrocketed Wednesday.

Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S., wrote in a status update Wednesday morning that it was investigating delays in withdrawals for ethereum and ERC-20 tokens due to network congestion, and is experiencing intermittent downtime across the Coinbase platform.

"We’re seeing some issues on Coinbase and Coinbase Pro and some features may not be functioning completely normal," a Coinbase spokesperson said in an email to Yahoo Finance. "We’re currently investigating these issues and will provide updates as soon as possible."

Binance, the world's biggest crypto exchange, also announced temporary halts on ethereum and ERC-20 withdrawals. It added in a separate statement that it had temporarily suspended trading for all Binance Leveraged Tokens, with some exceptions including for BTCUP, BTCDOWN and ETHUP.

Shares of Coinbase fell to the lowest level since their direct listing last month, trading below $220 per share. The stock has shed more than 20% over the past week. 

9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks open lower as tech shares renew declines 

Here's where markets were trading shortly after the opening bell: 

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -54.95 points (-1.33%) to 4,072.88

  • Dow (^DJI): -380.90 (-1.12%) to 33,679.76

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): 226.92 (-1.71%) to 13,078.42

  • Crude (CL=F): -$1.79 (-2.73%) to $63.70 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$2.50 (+0.13%) to $1,870.50 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): unchanged to yield 1.6420%

8:05 a.m. ET: Target shares jump after Q1 results beat estimates, company guides toward more growth as shopping picks up

Target (TGT) delivered strong first-quarter results, with consumer spending holding up more robustly than expected at the big box retailer into this year. Shares rose more than 3% in early trading. 

Comparable sales soared by 22.9%, whereas a rise of just 10.1% was expected, according to Bloomberg data. Comparable digital sales grew more than 50%, and digital sales comprised nearly one-fifth of all sales during the quarter. Gross margins of 30% and adjusted earnings per share of $3.69 each exceeded estimates. 

For the second quarter, Target sees mid-to-high single digit comparable sales growth. Wall Street was looking for a decline of nearly 6%. And later, Target expects positive single-digit comparable sales growth for the last two quarters of the year. 

"Market-share gains of more than $1 billion in the first quarter, on top of $1 billion in share gains a year ago, demonstrate Target's continued relevance with our guests, even as they have many more shopping options compared with a year ago," Target CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement. "Given the trust we've built with our guests quarter after quarter and our commitment to adjusting along with them to the ongoing shifts in the macro environment, we're confident in continued comp growth in the second quarter and through the remainder of the year, as well as a healthy full-year operating margin rate." 

8:00 a.m. ET: Lowe's posts stronger-than-expected Q1 earnings as home improvement project demand extended into early 2021  

Lowe's (LOW) posted first-quarter earnings and sales that easily exceeded estimates, with the better-than-expected results reflecting ongoing strength in home improvement project demand as many consumers continue to work from home. Shares fell, however, to match the trend seen with Home Depot's (HD) stock yesterday even after that company also topped Q1 estimates. 

First-quarter adjusted earnings were $3.21 per share, or better than the $2.59 expected, according to Bloomberg consensus data. And comparable sales grew 25.9%, coming in much faster than the 19.4% anticipated. U.S. comparable sales grew 24.4% over last year. A day earlier, larger competitor Home Depot posted U.S. comparable sales growth of 29.9%. 

"We delivered over 30% growth in Pro, over 18% growth in all 15 U.S. regions, and growth in Canada that outpaced the U.S.,” Lowe's CEO Marvin Ellison said in a statement. "Looking forward, I remain confident in our ability to accelerate our market share gains while driving further improvement in operating margin." 

7:24 a.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures head for third straight day of declines 

Here's where markets were trading ahead of the opening bell on Wednesday:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 4,085.75, down 37.25 points or 0.9%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 33,745.00, down 251 points or 0.74%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,047.75, down 164.25 points or 1.24%

  • Crude (CL=F): -$1.26 (-1.92%) to $64.23 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$11.30 (-0.6%) to $1,856.70 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +2 bps to yield 1.662%

6:15 p.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures add to losses 

Here were the main moves in markets Tuesday evening: 

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 4,117.5, down 5.5 points or 0.13%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 33,950.00, down 46 points or 0.14%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,203.5, down 8.5 points or 0.06%

People walk past the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) at Wall Street and the  'Fearless Girl' statue on March 23, 2021 in New York City. - Wall Street stocks were under pressure early ahead of congressional testimony from Federal Reserve Chief Jerome Powell as US Treasury bond yields continued to retreat. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
People walk past the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) at Wall Street and the 'Fearless Girl' statue on March 23, 2021 in New York City. - Wall Street stocks were under pressure early ahead of congressional testimony from Federal Reserve Chief Jerome Powell as US Treasury bond yields continued to retreat. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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