Nasdaq falls for a third day as tech stocks struggle, Dow loses 170 points

Stocks fell on Thursday to end a day of choppy trading, following the massive tech sell-off in the previous session.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 170.64 points, or 0.4%, to 36,236.47. The S&P 500 lost 0.1%, closing at 4,696.05. The Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.1% to 15,080.86. The Nasdaq fell about 4% over the previous two trading sessions.

Several tech stocks continued their slide, as investors rotated out of high valuation names. Tesla and Netflix fell more than 2% each. In megacap tech, Apple lost 1.6%. Amazon fell 0.6%, and Alphabet dipped less than 0.1%. Meta Platforms gained 2.5%, however.

“Investors are trying to wrap their heads around what different leadership looks like: we’ve all been conditioned that tech is the winner all day every day and that is just not going to be the case this year,” said Liz Young, head of investment strategy at SoFi. “Finishing out 2021, there were still a lot of investors who were overweight tech. This is a chance to really make sure that your portfolio is set up to not be overly exposed to headwinds” seen by high-multiple tech.

Rate-sensitive stocks gained a day after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s December meeting revealed the central bank is getting ready to remove its economic help more more quickly than anticipated. Officials discussed reducing the Fed’s balance sheet in another move to dial back its pandemic-era easy monetary policy.

As investors digested the minutes Thursday, the 10-year Treasury yield pushed as high as above 1.75%, after ending last year at 1.51%.

Regional banks Fifth Third and Regions rose more than 4%. Shares of Citi rose 3.2%, and Wells Fargo and Bank of America both added more than 2%.

Energy shares helped boost the market as crude prices rose. Diamondback Energy climbed 4.6%, Devon Energy added 3.7%, and Occidental gained nearly 3%.

The Fed’s plan to reduce the number of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities it holds comes as the central bank is already tapering its bond purchases and is set to hike interest rates after the taper concludes.

“There are a lot of newer investors in the market that have never seen a rate hike cycle,” Young said. “If you look throughout history it’s not a death sentence for the market, it’s not a death sentence for tech overall. Historically, the first rate hike – which is what I think everybody got scared of yesterday – it’s not that detrimental to equities either.”

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Elsewhere Thursday, shares of Allbirds soared by 12.2% after Morgan Stanley upgraded the shoe brand, whose stock has struggled since it went public in November.

Shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance reversed earlier gains from a strong earnings report and closed down 2.8%. Meanwhile, Bed Bath & Beyond shares soared 7.9% even after the company reported a loss for its fiscal third quarter.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance ticked up to 207,000 for the week ending Jan.1, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected claims would total 195,000.

The data comes a day ahead of the Labor Department’s key nonfarm payrolls report, which is forecast to show that the economy added 422,000 jobs in December. However, payroll processing firm ADP reported Wednesday that companies added a much higher-than-expected 807,000 positions for the month, indicating a possible upside surprise to Friday’s count from the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

—CNBC’s Jeff Cox contributed to this report.

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