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Financial Markets                      07/17 15:44

   

   NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street's record-breaking rally ran into a wall 
Wednesday, as worries about potentially worsening trade tensions with China hit 
stocks of chip companies. That dragged indexes to their worst day in months, 
but conditions may have been less discouraging underneath the surface.

   The S&P 500 slumped 1.4% a day after setting an all-time high for the 38th 
time this year. Losses for Nvidia and other Big Tech heavyweights also dragged 
the Nasdaq composite to a loss of 2.8%, its worst drop since 2022.

   But slightly more stocks in the S&P 500 nevertheless rose than fell, and the 
Dow Jones Industrial Average added 243 points, or 0.6%, to its record set a day 
earlier.

   The mix offered a continuation of a recent trend that market watchers have 
called encouraging, one where more stocks are rising rather than just a handful 
of dominant elites. The smaller stocks in the Russell 2000 were coming off a 
big five-day winning streak on hopes that interest rates are about to get 
easier and the U.S. economy will avoid a recession, though the index fell 1.1% 
Wednesday to hand back some of the gains.

   The market's spotlight was squarely on chip companies, which tumbled after a 
report from Bloomberg News said President Joe Biden is considering the most 
severe trade restrictions available if companies like the Netherlands' ASML and 
Japan's Tokyo Electron continue to ship advanced semiconductor technology to 
China. The U.S. government has blocked Chinese access to advanced chips and the 
equipment to make them, citing security concerns, and urged its allies to 
follow suit.

   ASML saw its stock trading in the United States drop 12.7% even though it 
reported sales for the spring that came in at the high end of its forecasted 
range. Shares of Tokyo Electron, meanwhile, dropped 7.5% in Tokyo to cull its 
gain for the year to 32.2%.

   Another major chip company, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., sank 
after former President Donald Trump criticized the self-governed island claimed 
by Beijing, which the U.S. is obligated by treaty to defend if it is attacked.

   "Taiwan should pay us for defense," Trump said according to a transcript of 
an interview published by Bloomberg. "Taiwan took our chip business from us, I 
mean, how stupid are we?" he said.

   TSMC's stock trading in the United States dropped 8%.

   Reverberations reached chip stocks around the world, including big U.S. 
players that have been some of Wall Street's biggest stars this year amid a 
frenzy around artificial-intelligence technology. Nvidia fell 6.6% after 
soaring 155.2% this year through the day before.

   Advanced Micro Devices fell 10.2%, and Broadcom dropped 7.9%.

   Big Tech stocks' movements have an outsized effect on indexes like the S&P 
500, which give more weight to companies of bigger size. That was a boon in 
recent years, when a small group of companies known as "the Magnificent Seven" 
was able to soar almost regardless of what the overall economy and interest 
rates were doing. That helped mask weakness underneath the surface as the 
economy struggled through high interest rates meant to snuff out inflation.

   Now, though, some critics call those Magnificent Seven stocks too expensive, 
and investors are creeping back into unloved areas of the market. The economy 
has remained resilient so far, with the job market staying solid, and investors 
widely expect the Federal Reserve to begin cutting interest rates in September 
because inflation has slowed.

   "Markets cannot continue indefinitely higher on the backs of just a handful 
of stocks," said JJ Kinahan, CEO of IG North America.

   Johnson & Johnson, whose stock is down for the year so far, climbed 3.7% 
after topping analysts' forecasts for profit in the latest quarter. It was one 
of the largest reasons the Dow Jones Industrial Average was able to rise 
despite drops of at least 1% for each of the Magnificent Seven stocks: 
Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta Platforms, Microsoft, Nvidia and Tesla.

   U.S. Bancorp, which has also lagged the rest of the market this year, 
rallied 4.6% after topping analysts' forecasts for profit and revenue.

   On the losing side of Wall Street was Five Below, a retailer targeting teens 
and tweens with products priced at $5 or below. It tumbled 25.1% after its CEO, 
Joel Anderson, stepped down from his job and from the board. It also gave a 
profit forecast for the second quarter that fell short of analysts' 
expectations.

   Spirit Airlines lost 10.8% after the discount carrier cut its forecast for 
revenue in the second quarter. It said it's making fewer dollars than expected 
from fees outside of tickets.

   All told, the S&P 500 fell 78.93 points to 5,588.27. The Dow climbed 243.60 
to 41,198.08, and the Nasdaq composite sank 512.42 to 17,996.92.

   In the bond market, the 10-year Treasury yield dipped to 4.14% from 4.16% 
late Tuesday.

   In stock markets abroad, London's FTSE 100 rose 0.3% after data showed the 
inflation rate remained steady at the Bank of England's 2% target in June. 
Indexes were mixed elsewhere across Europe and Asia.

   ___

   AP Business Writer Elaine Kurtenbach contributed.

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