Stock Market Today: Big Tech Carries Wall Street on Its Back

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Technology and tech-esque stocks were the vanguard for a wild (and broad) stock-market rally Thursday that largely ignored an unexpected contraction in U.S. economic activity.

This morning, the Commerce Department reported that U.S. gross domestic product declined at a 1.4% annualized pace during the first quarter of 2022, falling far shy of the 1% gain that economists, on average, expected. However, several experts noted that it wasn’t all bad news; a 2.7% rise in consumer spending and other metrics made the report more noise than omen.

“Huge miss on GDP this morning, but just looking at the headline [number] is misleading; we’d rate the report neutral overall,” says Cliff Hodge, chief investment officer for registered investment advisory firm Cornerstone Wealth, who believes the report was overall marginally net-bullish for risk assets. “Trade, inventories and government spending all dragged, but the consumer held up and business investment was strong.

“The big headline miss also gives the Fed some breathing room,” he adds.

Investors and traders seemed more occupied with the earnings calendar. Facebook parent Meta Networks (FB, +17.6%) rocketed higher despite missing revenue expectations; bulls instead celebrated a wide earnings beat ($2.72 vs. $2.56 est.) and a return to user growth. Specifically, the Facebook app’s daily active user count grew by 4%, to 1.96 billion, following a thin 1 million decline in Q4 2021.

Semiconductor firm Qualcomm (QCOM, +9.7%) delivered a monster quarter, too. Growth in all four major chip markets sent revenues and earnings per share up 41% and 69% year-over-year, respectively, to easy beat estimates. That news stirred the entire semiconductor industry, with rivals including Nvidia (NVDA, +7.4%) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD, +5.6%) up big.

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Apple (AAPL, +4.5%) and Amazon.com (AMZN, +4.7%) were also bid higher ahead of their quarterly reports, due out after Thursday’s close. The latter plunged 10% in early after-hours trading after reporting a $2 billion first-quarter loss and delivering a weak Q2 revenue forecast. The former had yet to report as of this writing.

Strength in the technology (+4.0%) and communication services (+4.0%) sectors lifted the recently battered Nasdaq Composite 3.1% to 12,871. The S&P 500 closed up 2.5% to 4,287, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.8% to 33,916.


Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 climbed 1.8% to 1,917.
  • Reports that Germany is open to a Russian oil embargo sent U.S. crude oil futures up 3.3% to $105.36 per barrel.
  • Gold futures edged up 0.1% to settle at $1,891.30 an ounce.
  • Bitcoin continued its recent recovery, gaining 2.9% to $39,969.33. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.)
  • McDonald’s (MCD) improved by 2.9% after the fast food giant reported earnings. While MCD’s decision to suspend operations in Russia cost it $127 million, or 13 cents per share, in its first quarter, the company still brought in adjusted earnings of $2.28 per share – more than the $2.17 per share analysts, on average, were expecting. Revenue of $5.7 billion also exceeded expectations, as did U.S. same-store sales growth of 3.5%.
  • PayPal Holdings (PYPL, +11.5%) reported adjusted earnings of 88 cents per share in its first quarter, in line with the consensus estimate, on higher-than-anticipated revenue of $6.5 billion. PYPL also lowered its full-year guidance – now calling for revenue growth of 11%-13% from its prior forecast for 15%-17% – amid “more normalized consumer e-commerce spending,” said CEO Dan Schulman in the company’s earnings call. “Despite the weak guidance, we expect PayPal to continue to show steady long-term growth in payment volumes as it adds merchants, signs additional partnerships, increases the number of transactions per customer, and benefits from the shift to digital payments,” says Argus Research analyst Stephen Biggar (Buy).
  • Teladoc Health (TDOC) plummeted 40.2% after the telemedicine company recorded a net loss of $6.7 billion, or $41.58 per share, in its first quarter – due largely to a $6.6 billion impairment charge – on revene of $565.4 million, below the $569 million analysts were expecting. TDOC also lowered its full-year revenue and adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization) outlooks amid higher costs and longer sales cycles for businesses. Still, Oppenheimer analyst Michael Wiederhorn maintained an Outperform (Buy) rating on TDOC stock. ” Overall, although the market has become extremely competitive around customer acquisition, we still believe TDOC is positioned to outlast the irrational behavior from its smaller competitors,” the analyst writes in a note to clients.

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Kyle Woodley was long AMZN, AMD, FB, NVDA and PYPL as of this writing.