S&P 500 Closes Lower After Struggling to Hold Gains Amid Tesla, Intel Rout

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S&P 500 Closes Lower After Struggling to Hold Gains Amid Tesla, Intel Rout
Credit: © Reuters.

By Yasin Ebrahim

Investing.com – The S&P 500 gave up intraday gains to trade lower Thursday, as a slump in Tesla and an Intel-led rout in chip stocks weighed on the broader market just as investors appeared to brace for a faster pace of Federal Reserve rate hikes. 

The S&P 500 fell 0.5%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.02%, or 7 points, the Nasdaq lost 1.4%.

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ) reported better-than-expected quarterly results, though warned supply chain issues could weigh on output this year, sending its shares more than 11% lower.

Some Wall Street analysts, however, were encouraged by the electric vehicle maker’s results including its plans to boost production by 50% in 2022.

“As we tweak shipment estimates higher, we raise our PT to $1,103 (from $1,080),” Oppenheimer said in a note.

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ), meanwhile, closed more than 7% lower as its better-than-expected quarterly results and guidance were overshadowed by concerns that increased investment costs will weigh on growth.

“Q4 was a strong quarter with Intel providing upside across nearly all metrics … but Intel's guide disappointed as higher investment expense (both depreciation and opex) is again slated to weigh on earnings,” Wedbush said in a note.

The slump in semis weighed on broader tech, though big tech offset some losses, with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN ) leading the gains to the upside.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ), which is set to report after the closing bell, pared gains to close flat.

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) recovered some ground, rising 6% after Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman revealed that he had racked up more than 3.1 million shares of streaming giant during its steep selloff on Friday.

Big tech has come under fire in recent weeks as concerns about a rising interest rate environment have dented sentiment on growth stocks.

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday indicated the Fed could raise interest rates in March, and also hinted at a faster and possible more aggressive rate hike path ahead. 

Cathie Woods’ Ark fund -- with Coinbase (NASDAQ: COIN ), Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ: ZM ), and Teladoc (NYSE: TDOC ) among its top five holdings -- is often seen a barometer for sentiment on high-flying growth stocks that have come under pressure.

But valuations in megacap tech have fallen to levels that could attract investors, once again.

“A lot of the Ark fund type of stocks have gotten demolished ... but you're going to see people going back into some of these megacap tech companies because now you're starting to see value in these names which have sold off a lot," said Jimmy Lee, the founder and CEO of The Wealth Consulting Group told Investing.com’s Yasin Ebrahim in an interview on Thursday.

"Big megacap stocks like Microsoft that continue to produce good earnings on a quarterly basis will attract longer-term investor money, and will probably end up getting back to their 52 week highs,” Lee added.

On the economic front, the U.S. economy grew by a more than expected 6.9% in the fourth quarter, but economists were quick to downplay the acceleration. "Q4 GDP rose by an impressive 6.9%, but the details were much less impressive. Final demand was weak across the board, at least compared to the growth rates in prior quarters," Jefferies said.

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