S&P 500, Nasdaq close lower as traders cash in on latest megacap rally

By Shubham Batra, Shristi Achar A and David Carnevali

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed in negative territory on Wednesday as investors took profits after a months-long megacap stocks run and ahead of key economic and policy events next week.

The small-cap index Russell 2000 climbed 1.78% as investors kept moving away from megagap and growth stocks after their strong gains.

“Over the past week, we’ve seen a pretty dramatic outperformance of small caps relative to large caps,” said Paul Baiocchi, investment firm SS&C ALPS Advisors chief ETF strategist. “We’re seeing that persist here today.”

U.S. inflation data is expected to show consumer prices eased slightly in May from the previous month but with elevated core prices.

Weighing on stocks, the two-year U.S. Treasury yield and benchmark 10-year yield increased after the Bank of Canada raised interest rates, adding to investor jitters about the Federal Reserve’s next U.S. interest rate decision.

Money market participants now see a 69% chance that the U.S. central bank will skip raising interest rates in its June meeting but will hike in July, down from nearly 77% earlier, according to the CME’s Fedwatch tool.

Recently, U.S. shares have been boosted by a megacap stocks rally and a stronger-than-expected earnings season, with the S&P 500 up almost 20% from its October 2022 lows.

Some analysts expect profit-taking soon in big tech and other major growth stocks.

Meanwhile, CBOE Volatility Index hit the lowest close since Feb. 14, 2020.

Wells Fargo raised the price target on Netflix shares to $500 from $400, the highest on Wall Street, according to Refinitiv. The streaming company ticked 0.12% higher on the news.

Energy index rose 2.65% after oil prices edged higher, while the KBW Regional Banking Index closed at the highest level since March 29.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 91.74 points, or 0.27%, to 33,665.02, the S&P 500 lost 16.33 points, or 0.38%, to 4,267.52 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 171.52 points, or 1.29%, to 13,104.90.

Yext Inc soared 38.44% after the New York-based online marketing firm raised its annual earnings forecast.

Campbell Soup fell 8.91% after the packaged food maker posted a lower fiscal third-quarter gross margin, dented by high commodity and freight costs.

Coinbase shares advanced 3.20% the day after they hit a seven-month low, as the company’s CEO reassured customers that their funds were safe and blasted the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over its lawsuit. On Tuesday, the SEC sued the largest U.S. crypto exchange, accusing it of operating illegally, without having first registered with regulator.

Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest bought 419,324 shares of Coinbase on Tuesday.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.58-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.27-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 22 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 122 new highs and 40 new lows.

(Reporting by Shubham Batra and Shristi Achar A in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi, Richard Chang and David Gregorio)