NEW YORK — Big Tech stocks burned by the downside of high expectations triggered a sharp slide for Wall Street Wednesday. The market’s losses worsened after the Federal Reserve indicated it likely won’t cut interest rates in March, as many traders had hoped.
The S&P 500 dropped 1.6% for its worst day since September. It veered between more modest and sharper losses through a shaky afternoon as traders delayed bets for when the Fed would begin easing its main interest rate from its highest level since 2001.
The slide for Big Tech stocks dragged the Nasdaq composite to a market-leading loss of 2.2%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which has less of an emphasis on tech, fell a more modest 0.8%, or 317 points.
Alphabet was one of the heaviest weights on the market, and it fell 7.5% despite reporting stronger profit and revenue for the latest quarter than analysts expected. Underneath the surface, analysts pointed to some concerning trends in how much Google’s parent company is earning from advertising.
The bigger challenge, though, may have been the high expectations the company faces after how much its stock soared last year. Other Big Tech stocks that also accounted for a disproportionate chunk of the S&P 500’s rally to a record likewise struggled Wednesday in the face of high expectations.
Microsoft fell 2.7% even though it delivered stronger profit and revenue than expected. One analyst, Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities, even called its quarterly report “a masterpiece that should be hung in the Louvre.”
Tesla, another member of the group of stocks nicknamed the “Magnificent Seven,” fell 2.2%. A judge in Delaware ruled a day earlier that its CEO, Elon Musk, is not entitled to the landmark compensation package earlier awarded to him.
The Magnificent Seven were responsible for the majority of the S&P 500’s return last year, and three more members are scheduled to report their latest quarter results on Thursday: Amazon, Apple and Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram. Expectations are high for them, too.
Besides the Magnificent Seven, stocks have rallied to records because of hopes that a cooldown in inflation will convince the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates several times this year. Such cuts would relax the pressure on the economy and encourage investors to pay higher prices for stocks.
But the Fed on Wednesday left its main interest rate steady and made clear it “does not expect it will be appropriate” to cut rates “until it has gained greater confidence that inflation is moving sustainably toward” its goal of 2%.
“We’re not declaring victory at all,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said. He said it’s unlikely the Fed will get to that level of comfort by its next meeting in March.
“It’s probably not the most likely case,” he said, which sent stocks skidding late in trading.
But Powell also said Fed officials already have some confidence that day will arrive….