Wall Street caps worst week since March as tech dips, COVID rises

Disappointing tech news, surging COVID-19 cases, and uncertainty over elections make a perfect cocktail for a market selloff.

Wall Street's main indexes on Friday closed out their worst week since March's selloff madness [File: Carlo Allegri/Reuters]
Wall Street's main indexes on Friday closed out their worst week since March's selloff madness [File: Carlo Allegri/Reuters]

Wall Street’s main stock indexes on Friday capped their worst week since March, as a tech selloff, soaring COVID-19 cases in the United States and Europe, and growing anxiety over the outcome of Tuesday’s US elections haunted investors ahead of Halloween.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down more than 157.51 points or 0.59 percent at 26,501.60.

The S&P 500 – a gauge for the health of US retirement and college savings reports – closed down 1.21 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index finished 2.45 percent in the red.

Investors were on edge all week as coronavirus cases surged in the US and Europe, and uncertainty grew over the results of next week’s US presidential election.

While President Donald Trump trails his Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the national polls, the race in key battleground states, where the election will likely be determined, is narrowing.


Voters wait in line for a campaign event to hear last-minute arguments from Jill Biden in Westland, Michigan, the United States [File: Emily Elconin/Reuters]

The markets were propped up on Thursday after the US Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that economic growth bounced back at a record pace in the third quarter.

“IF I AM ELECTED, NEXT YEAR WILL BE OUR BEST EVER!” President Trump wrote on Twitter, boasting about the “BEST IN USA HISTORY” gross domestic product growth of 33.1 percent in the last quarter.

But markets did not stay high on that data for long.

Tech titans reported their much-anticipated quarterly earnings after the closing bell on Thursday, and by Friday morning all but Google’s parent company Alphabet were in the red.

Shares of Apple closed down 5.6 percent after it posted the steepest drop in quarterly iPhone sales in two years.

Amazon.com shares dipped 5.44 percent after the tech titan forecast a jump in costs related to the coronavirus.

Facebook closed down 6.3 percent after as it warned of a challenging coming year.

Twitter’s stock closed down 21.12 percent after the site said it registered fewer users than expected and warned that the US election could hit advertising earnings.

Bucking the downward tech trend, shares of Alphabet finished Friday’s session up 3.81 percent after it beat forecasts for its quarterly sales as businesses got back to advertising after a COVID-19 slump.

On the oil and gas front, ExxonMobil posted a third-quarter net loss was $680m, or 15 cents per share, compared with a profit of $3.17bn, or 75 cents per share, a year earlier. It also said it would cut its global workforce by 15 percent.

Shares of ExxonMobil closed down 1.06 percent.

Oil and gas output has been plundered by the coronavirus pandemic as lockdowns and stay-at-home orders annihilated the demand for energy.

But Chevron posted a surprise third-quarter profit as oil prices bounced back from record lows in early 2020 and spending cuts cushioned the bottom line. The second-largest US oil producer reported earnings of $201m, or 11 cents per share, still way down compared with a year before.

Chevron shares finished up 1.01 percent.

Source: Al Jazeera


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