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S&P 500 Slips From Record Highs as Stocks Struggle for Direction

Stock Markets Aug 31, 2021 19:14
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By Yasin Ebrahim – The S&P 500 retreated from record highs Tuesday, but moves in either direction lacked conviction as gains in real estate were offset by weakness in tech stocks.

The S&P 500 rose 0.1%, slipping away from its intraday record high 4,537.36. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.1%, or 21 points, the Nasdaq was flat.

Real Estate was among the top sector gainers, underpinned by gains in Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE:VNO), Iron Mountain (NYSE:IRM), Welltower (NYSE:WELL).

The Real Estate Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSE:XLRE) is up nearly 3% in August, building on several months of the gains, as investors continue to count on the sector as hedge against inflation.

Communication services stocks were also climbing higher by media stocks including Discovery (NASDAQ:DISCA), ViacomCBS Inc (NASDAQ:VIAC), and Fox Corp . (NASDAQ:FOXA) led the broader move in communication services, amid ongoing optimism in the sector.

Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), pointing to improving fundamentals and attractive valuation tailwinds for the sector, recently upgraded media and entertainment to overweight, citing growing earnings and improving fundamentals.

Energy was flat, following a fall in oil prices as investors weighed up comments over the weekend from Kuwait’s oil minister who suggested that OPEC+ might decide to delay plans to increase production by 400,000 barrels per day.

Still, the “great majority of analysts, traders and refineries surveyed expect OPEC+ to stick to its plans to gradually raise oil production,” Commerzbank (DE:CBKG) said, citing a survey published by Bloomberg on Friday.

Megacap tech stocks were mostly below the flatline, stifling upside momentum in the broader market.  

Google-parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) was higher, but Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), and Microsoft were in the red.

Elsewhere in tech, Zoom slumped more than 15% after the video conference software company delivered quarterly results that beat on both the top and bottom lines, but signs of the pandemic-led boom in growth in normalizing spooked investors.

“We believe the next 2–3 quarters could present challenges as a new usage "steady state" is established, and we expect the shares to come under pressure in the near-term as shareholders realign their expectations,” Oppenheimer said in a note.

On the economic front, a weaker-than-expected consumer confidence report for August, stirred up worries that Delta variant of the coronavirus could be having a larger impact on the economy than initially expected.

”Just like what we saw in the University of Michigan sentiment data this month, it looks like consumers are feeling the pain of disappointment caused by the Delta variant of COVID,” Jefferies (NYSE:JEF) said in a note.

S&P 500 Slips From Record Highs as Stocks Struggle for Direction

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