Facebook's Plunge Hits Nasdaq; Easing Trade Worries Lift Dow

 The Nasdaq Composite fell on Thursday as Facebook led a selloff in technology stocks, but the Dow gained as fears of a transatlantic trade war eased after the European Union and the United States agreed to negotiate on tariffs.

Facebook shares plunged 18.4 percent and was set for the biggest one-day wipeout in U.S. stock market history after the company said profit margins would plummet for many years due to the costs of improving privacy safeguards and slowing usage in its biggest advertising markets.

The social media giant was the biggest drag on the Nasdaq and the benchmark S&P 500 index, also leading the losses in the technology sector that fell 1.9 percent.

The warnings dragged on the other components in the high-growth FAANG group. Netflix declined 1.3 percent, Alphabet dropped 0.8 percent. Amazon.com, due to report results after the bell, fell 2.1 percent, while shares of Apple were flat.

Twitter, set to report on Friday, declined .3 percent.

The selloff threatened to overshadow the optimism after President Donald Trump agreed to refrain from imposing car tariffs on the EU and the two sides agreed to work toward eliminating tariffs on industrial goods.

“It’s going to be hard for markets today with such a massive market cap stock down so much,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director, institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

“It is possible that easing tensions could outweigh something like Facebook, because that has been the biggest concern of markets for weeks and Facebook is a one-off negative event.”

At 9:58 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 152.15 points, or 0.60 percent, at 25,566.25, the S&P 500 was down 7.85 points, or 0.28 percent, at 2,838.22 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 90.06 points, or 1.14 percent, at 7,842.18.

The estimate for profit growth of S&P companies in the second quarter is now at 22.4 percent, compared with the 20.7 percent estimate as of July 1, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Seven of the 11 main S&P sectors were higher, with the consumer staples sector up 1.32 percent.

Mondelez’s rose 5 percent after posting a better-than-expected profit and was the biggest boost to the sector.

Hershey gained 5.9 percent after topping quarterly sales and profit estimates.

Supervalu surged 64.7 percent after United Natural Foods agreed to buy the supermarket operator in a deal valued at about $2.9 billion. United Natural slipped 13.6 percent.

Ford fell 4.2 percent after the automaker lowered its full-year profit forecast due to slumping sales and trade tariffs in China and its struggling business in Europe.

McDonald’s dipped 1 percent after the fast-food chain missed U.S. same-store sales estimates for the first time in at least two years.

Chipmakers were a bright spot.

Advanced Micro Devices jumped 5.9 percent, while Xilinx rose 11.2 percent after the companies topped quarterly estimates.

Qualcomm gained 4.8 percent, while NXP Semiconductors fell 5.6 percent. Qualcomm ended its $44-billion pursuit of NXP after failing to win Chinese regulatory approval.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.48-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.04-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 43 new 52-week highs and four new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 61 new highs and 33 new lows.

(Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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