Stocks in the US were heading lower on Friday afternoon, poised to end the week on a lower note after a period of heavy earnings and before next week’s meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.
The equity measures turned lower amid several media reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it would probe additional emails that have come to light in connection with Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server. The Standard & Poor’s 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite all moved deeper into the red. With less than two weeks before the key Nov. 8 vote, markets had been absorbing opinion polls that showed Clinton’s lead over rival Donald Trump widening.
On the Dow, Merck (MRK) dropped 4.3% to lead losses as health care stocks sold off. The sector dropped 2.1% to post the steepest decline among the S&P groupings. Information technology managed a 0.4% increase in the strongest advance.
In earnings news, Amazon.com (AMZN) dropped 5% after the retail giant’s third quarter results missed analysts’ expectations on the bottom line but surpassed on net sales as both metrics posted year-on-year gains. Exxon Mobil (XOM) dropped 2.2% as the oil major said quarterly earnings and revenue dropped from a year earlier.
Conversely Chevron (CVX) rallied 4.1% after reporting earnings that came in well ahead of the Wall Street expectations. That was the Dow’s best performance.
Economic data showed the US economy expanded at the fastest rate since 2014 in the third quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said in an advance estimate on Friday. However, consumer sentiment slumped to a two-year low in October amid worries about a possible economic downturn in the coming years and the prospect of higher interest rates.
The FOMC is starting is two-day meeting on rates Tuesday, with a decision to be announced a day later. While there’s a 93% probability that the rate will be held, investors will take close note of the language in the FOMC’s statement about whether a hike in December is on the cards.
By mid-afternoon, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 were both down 0.4% while the Dow lost 0.3%.
Globally, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.6%, the Hang Seng fell 0.8%, the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.3%, the FTSE 100 rose 0.1% and the CAC 40 gained 0.3%.
By Caroline Williams