S&P 500, Nasdaq retreat as business activity dips

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq retreated on Wednesday as data showed domestic business activity nudged down in September, while a record high for Nike following a strong quarterly earnings report boosted the blue-chip Dow.

The 11 Wall St. door of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in New York City, New York, U.S., June 26, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Data from IHS Markit showed gains at factories were offset by a retreat at services industries in September, suggesting a loss of momentum in the economy as the third quarter draws to a close.

Bets of a stable economic rebound from a pandemic-driven recession, combined with historic fiscal and monetary stimulus, had driven a rally in the three main U.S. stock indexes since March.

However, doubts over the next coronavirus relief bill as well as a selloff in heavyweight technology-related stocks have weighed on investor sentiment this month, with Wall Street favorites including Facebook Inc FB.O, Apple Inc AAPL.O and Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O bearing the brunt of the losses.

“It’s just this constant push-and-pull in the face of uncertainty where we’re waiting on information about the election, earnings and stimulus,” said Thomas Hayes, managing member at Great Hill Capital LLC in New York.

Seven of the 11 major S&P indexes were down in morning trading, with energy .SPNY leading declines. Industrial stocks .SPLRCI were among the biggest gainers.

At 10:03 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 70.47 points, or 0.26%, at 27,358.65. The S&P 500 .SPX, however, was down 2.26 points, or 0.07%, at 3,313.31, while the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 46.23 points, or 0.42%, at 10,917.41.

“When the Dow outperforms the Nasdaq, it’s telling you that the market believes the reopening (and) vaccines are on track, and that’s going to help the type of large industrial stocks,” Hayes said.

Nike Inc NKE.N surged 9.7% to a record high as its digital sales, especially in North America, helped offset a fall in sales at traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

Tesla Inc TSLA.O, another Wall Street darling this year, tumbled 5.4% after Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk failed to impress with his promise to cut electric vehicle costs at the much awaited “Battery Day” event on Tuesday.

Oracle Corp ORCL.N fell 1% after a report by a state-backed Chinese newspaper said Beijing was unlikely to approve a proposed deal by the software maker and Walmart WMT.N for ByteDance’s TikTok.

Travel-related stocks including Delta Air Lines DAL.N, American Airlines AAL.O, Carnival Corp CCL.N and Royal Caribbean Cruises RCL.N rose more than 1% after being hammered earlier this week.

Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N gained 1.3% after kicking off a final 60,000-person trial of a single-shot COVID-19 vaccine that potentially would simplify distribution of millions of doses, compared with leading rivals using two doses.

Advancing issues nearly matched decliners on the NYSE and the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded three new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 23 new highs and 10 new lows.

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