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Cyclicals drag S&P 500 lower; Microsoft, Alphabet keep Nasdaq flat

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October 27, 2021

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Nasdaq ended little changed on Wednesday, boosted by gains in Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet on the heels of their quarterly results, but a drop in oil prices and a pullback in Treasury yields weighed on cyclical sectors and pulled the S&P 500 lower.

Microsoft Corp gained 4.21% to close at a record high after forecasting a strong end to the calendar year, fueled in part by its booming cloud business. Alphabet Inc jumped 4.96% after reporting a record quarterly profit on a surge in ad sales.

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The gains in the two stocks accounted for nearly 90 points to the upside in the tech-heavy Nasdaq while Microsoft was the biggest boost to the Dow Industrials, S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

A pullback in longer-term U.S. Treasury bond yields and a flattening of the yield curve also helped support growth names such as those in consumer discretionary and communications services, which were the only advancing S&P sectors on the day.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield declined for a fourth straight day, dropping more than 6 basis points to put it on track for its biggest one-day decline since Aug. 13.

“The growthy names will get a boost not just from some of the earnings stuff but because interest rates are lower,” said Megan Horneman, director of portfolio strategy at Verdence Capital Advisors in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

“Interest rates are temporarily lower because of the fact that there is some uncertainty from the tax perspective and what that might do. We do know the Fed is going to taper, that has pretty much been priced in but now you have a lot of talk about what the future of the Federal Reserve may look like.”

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 266.19 points, or 0.74%, to 35,490.69, the S&P 500 lost 23.11 points, or 0.51%, to 4,551.68 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.12 point, or unchanged, to 15,235.84.

In contrast, the flattening curve served to weaken financials, while a drop in crude prices after data on U.S. stockpiles pulled energy names lower, with both sectors suffering their biggest one-day percentage decline in five weeks. JP Morgan shares fell 2.08% and Exxon Mobil declined 2.60%.

A solid start to earnings season has helped push the S&P 500 and the Dow to all-time highs this week, as investor concerns over the ability of companies to navigate supply-chain bottlenecks, labor shortages and rising price pressures have been allayed for now. The Nasdaq sits less than 1% away from Sept. 7 closing record.

“While we are not out of the woods by any means, companies are adjusting quicker than we had anticipated,” said Horneman.

Profits for S&P 500 companies are expected to grow 37.6% year-on-year in the third quarter. Out of the 192 companies that have reported earnings, 82.8% have topped analyst expectations, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

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The move into the growth names like technology stocks was also triggered after some U.S. Senate Democrats proposed taxing billionaires’ unrealized gains from their assets, while concerns around the timing of rate hikes resurfaced ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting next week.

The S&P 500 growth index climbed about 0.28% while its value counterpart fell 1.44%.

Robinhood Markets Inc tumbled 10.44% after the retail broker reported downbeat third-quarter revenue as trading levels declined for cryptocurrencies including dogecoin.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.43-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.29-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 36 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 72 new highs and 133 new lows.

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Volume on U.S. exchanges was 11.74 billion shares, compared with the 10.43 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Buying the Omicron dip

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November 29, 2021

A look at the day ahead from Danilo Masoni.

Sell first, get answers later. With stocks near lifetime peaks, the Black Friday reaction to the new fast-spreading virus strain Omicron was hardly surprising.

But a weekend later, investors look heavily engaged in buying the dip, as markets take a more balanced view of risks attached to what the WHO called a “variant of concern”.

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After their ninth biggest drop ever on Friday, gains in crude prices topped 5% earlier in Asia and stock futures point to a solid bounce across Europe and America.

A South African doctor said patients with Omicron have “very mild” symptoms and investment houses don’t look to have budged that much. Credit Suisse, for example, made no portfolio changes, staying slight overweight on equities.

Perhaps more telling is that retail traders poured north of $2 billion into U.S. stocks on Friday, setting the second biggest daily inflow on record, per Vanda Research data.

Of course there are uncertainties and that will likely make for volatile days heading into the Christmas shopping season.

Understanding the level of severity of the variant “will take days to several weeks”, said WHO. And vaccine maker BioNTech needs up to two weeks to figure out whether the shot it makes with Pfizer needs to be reworked.

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So while Omicron has spread from Australia to the Netherlands and governments ban travel and mull lockdowns, markets may also gamble on central bankers turning more patient in their path towards rates normalisation.

Lots of speakers from the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank are lined up for today. On Sunday, speaking about risks to the recovery, ECB’s Lagarde said: “We now know our enemy and what measures to take.”

Key developments that should provide more direction to markets on Monday:

* ECB speakers: Governor Lagarde, ECB board members AndreaEnria, Isabel Schnabel, Pentti Hakkarainen; ECB Vice PresidentLuis de Guindos * Euro zone consumer sentiment/inflation expectations * German preliminary CPI/HICP * Fed speakers: Chairman Jerome Powell, New York PresidentJohn Williams, Governor Bowman * Emerging markets: Kenya central bank meets; Turkey tradebalance and bank NPL ratios (This story refiles to fix chart)

(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Saikat Chatterjee)

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UK regulator set to block Meta’s Giphy deal – FT

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November 29, 2021

(Reuters) -The UK competition regulator is expected to block Meta Platforms’ acquisition of online GIF platform Giphy in the coming days, the Financial Times reported https://www.ft.com/content/662c8e3f-4909-4bec-9131-c0237bb4897d on Monday.

The Competition and Markets Authority is set to reverse the deal in what would be the first time the watchdog has reversed a Big Tech acquisition, the report said, citing individuals close to the matter.

Meta Platforms and the regulator did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters sent outside working hours.

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The regulator had in October fined the U.S. social media giant Facebook, now Meta, 50.5 million pound ($67.35 million) for breaching an order that was imposed during an investigation into its purchase of the GIF platform, Giphy.

Facebook bought Giphy, a website for making and sharing animated images, or GIFs, in May last year to integrate it with its photo-sharing app, Instagram. The deal was then pegged at $400 million by Axios.

($1 = 0.7499 pounds)

(Reporting by Sneha Bhowmik in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V)

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Evergrande shares fall after chairman cuts stake; Fantasia suspends trading

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November 29, 2021

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Shares in China Evergrande Group fell as much as 4.8% on Monday morning, after its chairman trimmed his stake in the cash-strapped property developer to raise about $344 million.

The group’s electric vehicle unit, China Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group Ltd, also dropped more than 5% after it said the company was still exploring ways to pump capital into the unit with different investors.

Evergrande has been scrambling to raise capital as it grapples with more than $300 billion in liabilities and Chinese authorities have told its chairman, Hui Ka Yan, to use some of his personal wealth to help pay bondholders, sources have said.

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Evergrande failed to pay coupons totalling $82.5 million due on Nov. 6 and investors are on tenterhooks to see if it can meet its obligations before a 30-day grace period ends on Dec 6.

The developer disclosed late on Friday that Hui had sold 1.2 billion shares in the company at an average price of HK$2.23 each, lowering his stake in the Shenzhen-based real estate developer to 67.9% from 77%.

Once China’s top-selling developer, Evergrand’e troubles have hit the broader Chinese property sector with a string of debt defaults and credit rating downgrades of its peers in the last couple of months.

Fantasia Holdings suspended trading in company shares on Monday pending release of information. On Thursday, the developer said a winding-up petition was filed against a unit related to an outstanding loan.

(Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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