Tech stocks tug Wall Street lower; investors fret about US tax cut delays (VIDEO)

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York November 10, 2017.  — Reuters pic
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York November 10, 2017. — Reuters pic

NEW YORK, Nov 10 — Wall Street stocks dropped yesterday, weighed down by losses in Microsoft and other technology issues, as investors turned their attention to a US Senate Republican plan that would delay expected corporate tax cuts.

The S&P 500 index has surged about 21 per cent since the election of President Donald Trump a year ago, fuelled by his promises to cut corporate taxes and other business-friendly measures.

Senate Republicans are unveiling a tax proposal that differs markedly on corporate, business and individual tax cuts from legislation detailed by their counterparts in the House of Representatives, Republican aides said.

The Senate proposal delays a corporate tax rate cut to 20 per cent by a year and provides small-business owners with a deduction rather than a special business rate, said the aides.

Earlier yesterday, uncertainty about the future of corporate tax rates pushed the S&P 500 down as much 1.0 per cent, underscoring how much Wall Street is banking on a tax reduction., but the selloff was brief and stocks quickly recovered much of the dip.

The S&P 500 is trading at 18 times expected earnings, expensive compared with its 10-year average of 14.3, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream. Cutting corporate taxes would boost earnings and make stocks relatively less expensive.

“It’s been a year since the election. We’ve gone up 22 per cent on hopes of what the Trump agenda would bring, and while they’re trying to work toward this thing, they haven’t really accomplished much yet,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

“If progress is not made, the equity market should either pause or correct until meaningful progress is made.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.43 per cent to end at 23,461.94, while the S&P 500 declined 0.38 per cent to 2,584.62.

The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.58 per cent to 6,750.05.

The Philadelphia Semiconductor index, a top performer in 2017.

Six of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors fell, with industrials down 1.28 per cent and the technology index off 0.85 per cent.

Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Oracle and Facebook were among the stocks weighing most on the S&P 500.

Technology has been the best-performing S&P 500 sector so far this year, with a 37 per cent rise. The sector’s stretched valuations make it vulnerable to selling as investors worry that promised tax reductions might not emerge.

Roku soared 55 per cent after the video streaming device maker’s quarterly results and guidance beat expectations.

Macy’s jumped 10.98 per cent after the department store operator’s profit came in above expectations.

In extended trade, Nordstrom dropped 1.0 per cent after that retailer reported quarterly sales short of analysts’ expectations.

Walt Disney Co lost 2.0 per cent after the bell following its quarterly report while chipmaker Nvidia rose nearly 2.0 per cent after its report.

During the session, Dish Network rose 3.22 per cent after the satellite and internet TV provider added subscribers in the United States in the third quarter and reduced the rate at which it lost existing customers.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.67-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.62-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

About 7.4 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, above the 6.6 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions. — Reuters

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