S&P 500, Nasdaq down as earnings roll in; investors assess economic data

By Ankika Biswas and Shashwat Chauhan

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell in choppy trading on Thursday, as megacap stocks remained under pressure, while investors kept tabs on the raging quarterly earnings season and a mixed bag of data.

Even after its third-quarter results beat expectations, Meta Platforms dropped 6.3% to a two-month low as the Facebook parent forecast 2024 spending above estimates and suggested the Middle East conflict could dampen fourth-quarter sales.

The 10-year Treasury yield still hovered near the 5% mark despite easing after the data, dragging megacaps Tesla and Microsoft down 1.9% and 1.4%.

Amazon.com shed 2.2% ahead of its results due after the closing bell, while Google-parent Alphabet lost 2.8%, adding to its 9.5% tumble on Wednesday.

On the data front, durable goods rose 4.7% in September, higher than the estimated 1.7%, while jobless claims climbed to 210,000 in the week ended Oct. 21, versus the expected 208,000.

Traders added to bets the Federal Reserve will keep policy on hold through this year and will begin interest rate cuts in mid-2024, despite the U.S. economy growing at its fastest pace in nearly two years in the third quarter.

“Jobless claims came in worse than expected, which gives the Fed some level of cover to stay put and not do anymore either in November or hopefully in December, then you have core PCE prices, which adds to that narrative,” said Thomas Hayes, chairman at Great Hill Capital LLC.

“The Fed looks at jobs and inflation as to whether they’re going to tighten even more. So, in the case of GDP, good news is good news and it’s a Goldilocks morning of economic data.”

Further on earnings, United Parcel Service dipped 4.2% after lowering its full-year revenue forecast, while Comcast shed 5.5% after the media giant reported a surprise loss in customers in its broadband business.

Hasbro slid 9.5% after the maker of “Transformers” action figures cut its annual revenue forecast. Mattel tumbled 10.6% after the Barbie doll-maker warned of slowing demand for the industry heading into the crucial holiday season.

Mastercard lost 4.1% after forecasting weaker-than-expected growth in net revenue for the fourth quarter.

At 9:53 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 23.05 points, or 0.07%, at 33,058.98, the S&P 500 was down 17.74 points, or 0.42%, at 4,169.03, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 107.48 points, or 0.84%, at 12,713.74.

Five of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were trading lower, with communication services and energy leading falls.

On the geopolitical front, Israel said its ground forces had pushed into Gaza overnight to attack Hamas targets. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country was “preparing for a ground invasion” that could be one of several.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.40-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.14-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded no new 52-week high and 21 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded five new highs and 182 new lows.

(Reporting by Ankika Biswas and Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)