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While you were sleeping: GE slump weighs on Wall St

Tuesday 24th October 2017

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A slide in General Electric shares weighed on Wall Street as investors eyed a slew of corporate earnings slated for release in the coming days as well as fresh clues about progress on the Trump administration’s tax reform plans.

“Earnings will be centre stage, and then tax reform,” Ernie Cecilia, the chief investment officer at Bryn Mawr Trust in Pennsylvania, told Bloomberg. “Those are the two, whatever order you want to put them in.”

Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, Intel and McDonald’s are among US companies set to report their latest quarterly earnings this week. 

In 2.42pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.02 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.3 percent. In 2.27pm trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index retreated 0.2 percent. 

US Treasuries rose, sending yields on the 10-year note one basis point lower to 2.38 percent

Earlier in the day the Dow touched a record high 23,368.37.

“You have tax reform coming in, you have a possible change in interest rates coming in, so people are taking a little bit of a pause after record days every day last week,” Anthony Conroy, President of Abel Noser in New York, told Reuters. “Everybody is looking at earnings—what are they going to do, can they continue?”

Among the latest US economic data, investors will closely eye a report on third-quarter GDP, slated for release on Friday. Economists polled by Bloomberg forecast it will show the economy expanded at about a 2.5 percent annualised pace, restrained in part by the effects of two hurricanes. 

The Dow fell as a slump in shares of General Electric and those of McDonald’s, recently down 6.4 percent and 1.3 percent respectively, outweighed gains in shares of Wal-Mart and those of the Home Depot, recently up 1.6 percent and 1.3 percent respectively.

General Electric dropped as some analysts downgraded their ratings on the stock amid concern about potential dividend cuts under CEO John Flannery, who succeeded Jeff Immelt in August.

"The reduction to our target price is driven by a substantial cut to earnings expectations," Morgan Stanley analyst Nigel Coe wrote in a note to clients Monday, CNBC reported. "We also see a higher probability of a dividend cut that we do not view as priced in. We believe investors need to take action to protect against the possibility of near term underperformance in the event of a dividend cut in November and this is clearly an additional factor in our rating change."

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the session with a 0.2 percent increase from the previous close. The UK’s FTSE 100 Index eked out a 0.02 percent gain, while Germany’s DAX Index rose 0.1 percent and France’s CAC 40 Index added 0.3 percent.


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