Stocks sink as Apple, Facebook pace the tech wreck

Weakness in some of the biggest techn companies sent markets tumbling, as pessimism about escalating trade tensions between the Trump administration and China added to concerns about potential new regulations coming for the industry.

(Bloomberg) — Weakness in some of the biggest technology companies sent U.S. stocks tumbling Monday as pessimism about escalating trade tensions between the Trump Administration and China added to concerns about potential new regulations coming for the industry. The dollar steadied and Treasuries crept higher for a fifth straight session.

All major American benchmarks closed down more than 1.5 percent. Software developers and semiconductor manufacturers were the worst performing groups in the S&P 500 Index. The Nasdaq 100 Index plunged more than 3 percent to the lowest since April on renewed concern that trade fights will tamp down global demand and disrupt supply chains for the major technology companies that have carried the bull market for almost 10 years. In addition, the biggest drop in homebuilder sentiment in more than four years hammered the housing sector.

“The easiest way to stop the selloff would be for Trump and [Chinese President] Xi to reach some kind of agreement, even if it’s just no new tariffs and/or keeping the rate at 10 percent through Jan. 1,” said Max Gokhman, head of asset allocation for Pacific Life Fund Advisors. “The U.S. equity market is starting to price in the supply chain disruption, which is doubly painful because of stretched margins.”

“You’re seeing weakness in semiconductors because of Nvidia’s weak earnings that were released last week,” said Ryan Nauman, market strategist at Informa Financial Intelligence. “Facebook is having some more issues with potentially covering up the Russia hack in the 2016 election. Apple, they’re getting downgraded based on demand. A lot of companies and analysts are concerned that the demand for the iPhone has decreased. The trade concern isn’t helping Apple much either with the supply chain.”

Investors are reassessing markets after several weeks of volatility spurred by fears of trade conflicts. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation failed to agree on a joint statement for the first time in its history, and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence attacked China at a weekend summit, quashing optimism that relations would improve at Group-of-20 meetings starting next week. In addition, rising U.S. interest rates are pushing up financing costs and threatening global growth.

“Any margin for safety with global growth rates is gone,” said Tim Courtney, chief investment officer of Exencial Wealth Advisors in Oklahoma City. “Now we’re going into a period of slow growth. We’re in no-man’s land — sitting, stuck in a slow growing, slow inflationary environment.”

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index fell following a plunge in Renault SA on misconduct allegations against the carmaker’s leader, Carlos Ghosn. European bonds mostly edged lower. The pound fluctuated as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May appealed to business leaders to help deliver her Brexit deal, and Gibraltar emerged as a fresh sticking point.

Elsewhere, the Australian and New Zealand currencies slipped after Pence’s remarks. Bitcoin fell below $5,000 for the first time since October 2017. Crude closed in on $57 a barrel as energy stocks rebounded.