Dow, S&P 500 dragged down by financials after mixed big bank results

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By Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – The Dow and the S&P 500 fell on Friday as declines among heavyweight financial stocks led by JPMorgan made for a weak start to the fourth-quarter earnings season, while the Nasdaq edged higher as some big technology stocks regained lost ground.

Eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors fell in early trading, with financials falling 1.3%. The S&P 500 banks index slid 1.8% from a record high hit in the previous session.

JPMorgan Chase & Co tumbled 4.9% on reporting weaker performance at its trading arm, even as it beat earnings expectations for the fourth quarter. The bellwether lender also warned that soaring inflation, looming threat of Omicron and trading revenues returning to normal levels are set to challenge the banking industry’s growth in the coming months.

Citigroup Inc fell 2.5% after posting a 26% drop in fourth-quarter profit, while asset manager BlackRock Inc fell 1.6% after missing quarterly revenue expectations.

“The sentiment is pretty sour, even though today officially kicks off the fourth-quarter earnings reporting period … it seems as if inflation continues to be the overriding worry,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research, New York.

Wells Fargo & Co, on the other hand, gained 2.2% after posting a bigger-than-expected rise in fourth-quarter profit.

Financials have outperformed the broader S&P 500 index on expectations of banks benefiting from interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, firming Treasury yields and a rotation out of growth sectors such as technology, communication services and consumer discretionary.

Year-over-year earnings growth from S&P 500 companies was expected to be lower in the fourth quarter compared with the first three quarters but still strong at 22.4%, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Megacap growth companies including Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft, Tesla and Meta rose a day after a selloff triggered by multiple Fed speakers who put talks about inflation and interest rate hikes in focus.

At 10:05 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 149.40 points, or 0.41%, at 35,964.22, the S&P 500 was down 4.38 points, or 0.09%, at 4,654.65 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 26.46 points, or 0.18%, at 14,833.27.

Casino operators Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts and Melco Resorts advanced between 2.5% and 14.8% after Macau’s government capped the number of new casino operators allowed to operate to six with an operating period of up to 10 years.

Data showed retail sales tumbled in December as Americans struggled with shortages of goods and an explosion of COVID-19 infections. Separately, soaring inflation hit U.S. consumer sentiment in early January, which fell to the second lowest level in a decade.

U.S. stock markets will remain shut on Monday on account of a public holiday.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.20-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 2.19-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. The S&P index recorded 16 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 17 new highs and 350 new lows.

(Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)