The S&P 500 fell on Wednesday as mega-cap technology stocks rose after the index ended a seven-day winning streak in the previous session.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 110 points. The S&P 500 was down 0.2% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 0.4% after breaking a new record shortly after opening.
With interest rates falling and concerns about the peak of economic growth, investors have rediscovered their old big tech favorites. Apple and Amazon both posted double-digit percentage returns in the past 1 month, far exceeding the 2.8% return on the S&P 500.
Contrary to many predictions, the yield on 10-year US Treasuries fell to 1.306% on Wednesday. Big tech names like Apple, Facebook and Google parent Alphabet rose on Wednesday. Amazon’s shares were up 1% even after the e-commerce giant rose nearly 5% on Tuesday.
“As has been the case for some time, bond yields and technology stocks have teamed up on the hip,” Jim Paulsen, Leuthold Group’s chief investment strategist, told CNBC. “Traders will watch the S&P 500 Tech Index near its relative highs recorded last September. A break above that level would certainly reinforce an ongoing technology leadership cycle.”
Energy stocks were in the red as oil prices fell. WTI crude briefly hit a 6-year high on Tuesday before falling. Crude oil was down again on Wednesday. Occidental Petroleum, APA Corp. and Pioneer Natural Resources all gained more than 2%.
Bank stocks, including Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, continued their retreat on Wednesday as long-term bond yields continued to fall, hurting the industry’s profitability outlook. Returns at the short end of what is known as the Treasury curve, including 1-year notes and 2-year notes, have been flat to higher.
Investors will hear more clues as to the direction of Federal Reserve monetary policy when it releases its latest minutes of the meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
The Fed’s minutes are expected to be cautious as the central bank seeks progress in the job market rather than worrying that recent inflation will become a sustained trend. A slowdown in bond purchases would be the Fed’s first major retreat from the loose policies it put in place when the economy closed last year.
The end of the Fed’s $ 120 billion monthly government and mortgage purchases would also signal that the central bank’s next move could be to hike rates.
During Tuesday’s regular session, the 30-share Dow fell 208 points. The S&P 500 ended the day down 0.2%, down from a record. The Nasdaq Composite rose nearly 0.2% to a new all-time high.
Investors may fear that the economy is nearing its peak and that a correction is imminent. In addition to the complacency of the market, the combination of profit margin pressures, fears of inflation, Fed tapering and possible higher taxes could all contribute to an eventual decline, market strategists say.
– CNBC’s Patti Domm contributed to the coverage.