Wall St eases after two-day surge as Tesla, Microsoft slip

US stocks fell in a volatile session on Tuesday, with Microsoft and Tesla weighing the most as high-valued technology and growth stocks gave back some gains from the past two sessions.
Five of the 11 major S&P sectors fell, with utilities and technology stocks leading the declines.

Electric-car maker Tesla Inc fell 0.9% after recalling nearly 54,000 vehicles, while Microsoft Corp declined 1.3% after a media report that the US Federal Trade Commission will be reviewing its $ 68.7 billion deal for Activision Blizzard Inc.

“The market just wants to digest ahead of the big earnings … Alphabet and Meta are going to be critical for the health of this market,” said Thomas Hayes, managing member at Great Hill Capital LLC in New York.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq logged their largest two-day gains since April 2020 on the final trading day of January, which still turned out to be their worst monthly performance since March 2020 on fears over faster-than-expected rate hikes and geopolitical tensions .

Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker’s said on Tuesday it may be appropriate for the central bank to raise rates four times this year, and move more aggressively if the factors leading to higher inflation are not mitigated.

Traders are betting on five rate hikes this year, with some Wall Street analysts expecting seven hikes.

“This will be the year when the Fed will pull back support … the markets will not be on steroids anymore and may go through a phase of detox,” said Anu Gaggar, global investment strategist at Commonwealth Financial Network.

Geopolitical tensions added to market volatility, with the Pentagon saying on Monday it was in active discussions with Eastern European allies about possible US troop deployments to NATO’s eastern flank.

At 10:22 am ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 11.04 points, or 0.03%, at 35,142.90, the S&P 500 was down 6.13 points, or 0.14%, at 4,509.42, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 54.83 points, or 0.39 %, at 14,185.05.

As of Monday, 172 S&P 500 companies posted fourth-quarter results, of which 78.5% reported earnings above analyst expectations, according to Refinitiv.

Exxon Mobil Corp rose 5.3% after posting its largest quarterly profit in seven years, as the oil producer benefited from strong energy prices.

Google parent Alphabet Inc edged up 0.2% ahead of its quarterly results after the closing bell, with Amazon Inc and Meta Platforms Inc expected to report later this week.

AT&T Inc dropped 4.4% after slashing its dividend by nearly half and saying it would spin off WarnerMedia in a $ 43 billion transaction to merge its media properties with Discovery Inc.

Latest data from the Labor Department showed job openings grew to 10.925 million December, far exceeding analyst expectations of 10.3 million, ahead of the more closely-watched monthly payrolls report on Friday.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.22-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.07-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 14 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 23 new highs and 10 new lows.

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