US banks hit after S&P’s downgrade
TECHNOLOGY shares buoyed the Nasdaq yesterday after positive broker comments on Qualcomm, but financial shares’ losses held back the Dow and the S&P 500.
Banks were hurt by a broad debt ratings downgrade from Standard & Poor’s and uncertainty over the government’s extensive proposals for banking-industry reform. The KBW Bank index fell 3.3 per cent.
Qualcomm was among the Nasdaq’s leaders, up 3.8 per cent at $45.09 after Goldman Sachs added the wireless technology supplier’s stock to its “conviction buy” list.
Biotech companies also rose after Celgene said its experimental anti-inflammatory drug was effective in a mid-stage study. Celgene rose 4.2 per cent to $44.94.
Analysts said there were no surprises in President Barack Obama’s plans to reshape financial regulation but uncertainty remained about the regulations’ impact on the financial system and the wider economy.
“The reality is the government is going to create more costs for the financial industry and there’s uncertainty in terms of what exactly those costs will be,” said Rick Campagna, portfolio manager at Provident Investment Council.
“Because of the extra regulation, you probably end up having less leverage available to some financial institutions which, although (it) is a good thing systematically, creates lower return on equity across the board.”
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 7.49 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 8,497.18. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was off 1.26 points, or 0.14 per cent, at 910.71. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 11.88 points, or 0.66 per cent, to 1,808.06.
On the economic front, the closely watched Consumer Price Index, released before the opening bell, showed inflation is still not a worry.
The S&P 500 briefly fell below its 200-day moving average for the first time since the beginning of June but rallied to close above that level, a crucial technical gauge of market strength.
After rising as much as 40 per cent from a 12-year low in early March, the US stock market pulled back slightly in recent days.