U.S. stocks fall as big tech stumbles ahead of Powell testimony

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U.S. stocks fall as big tech stumbles ahead of Powell testimony
Credit: © Reuters.

Investing.com -- U.S. stocks fell Tuesday, as investors eased bullish bets on big tech just a day ahead of  Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell testimony before Congress that could provide potential fresh clues on monetary policy.   

By 15:17 ET (20:17 GMT), the benchmark S&P 500 fell 0.9%, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slumped 1.7%, and the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.9%, or 341 points.

Powell, payrolls in focus for rate cut cues 

Markets were awaiting fresh cues on monetary policy from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell , who is set to offer a two-day testimony before Congress on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Analysts expect Powell to largely maintain a hawkish tilt and reiterate his stance that the central bank needs more convincing that inflation is nearing its annual 2% target.

Several Fed officials warned against bets on early rate cuts by the central bank, citing concerns over sticky inflation and resilience in the U.S. economy. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said on Monday that persistent bets on early Fed rate cuts could trigger an increase in inflationary pressures. 

Still, analysts expect that the Fed will have enough conviction by June to begin trimming rates. 

Along with Powell’s testimony, the focus this week is also on key nonfarm payrolls data for February.

Big tech slips a Tesla, Apple, AMD weigh

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ) fell 4% after the electric vehicle giant said shipments of its China-made cars fell by19% year-on-year to 60,365, the lowest level since December 2022, following disruptions caused by the Lunar New Year holidays.

The drop came as the firm engaged in a bitter price war with its Chinese peers to capture the world’s largest EV market.

Chip stocks, which have played a pivot role in the rally so far, were pressured by a more than 1% fall in  Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ: AMD ) after Bloomberg News reported that the U.S. government had placed a hurdle in front of the company's effort to sell an artificial intelligence chip designed for the Chinese market.

Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL ), meanwhile, fell more than 2% after short-seller Counterpoint Research said iPhone sale had plunged 24% in China amid rising competition local firms including Huawei and Xiaomi (OTC: XIACF ). Despite the "dismal" sentiment on Apple amid China headwinds, Wedbush said on optimism that Apple will likely still meet expected iPhone sales, while its "rock solid" services business will also provide a cushion. 

Target shines, but Stitch Fix falters on earnings stage

Elsewhere, Target (NYSE: TGT ) reported adjusted per-share income in the fourth quarter that topped average analyst estimates, sending its shares more than 12% higher. The big-box retailer also detailed plans to launch new paid membership program in an effort to keep sales robust amid increasingly wary consumer. 

Stitch Fix (NASDAQ: SFIX ) fell more than 19% after the peronal styling service provider cut its full-year revenue outlook after reporting fiscal Q2 results that missed Wall Street estimates as active users slumped.   

Bitcoin in violent reversal after notching new all-time high 

Bitcoin fell more 6% after hitting an oil time high of $68,874 as investors appeared to take profit on the popular crypto. Crypto-related names including Coinbase Global Inc (NASDAQ: COIN ), Marathon Digital Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: MARA ) and MicroStrategy Incorporated (NASDAQ: MSTR ) plunged, with the latter falling more than 11% following added pressure amid plans to sell $600 million in convertible senior notes.

(Scott Kanowsky, Ambar Warrick contributed to this report.)

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