Wall Street tumbles on tech sector, trade war worries

Sarah Ketterer chief investment officer at Causeway Capital says some tech stocks got ahead of themselves

Beijing responded to Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs on Monday by following through on its threat to impose tariffs on $3 billion of U.S. imports. Technology companies took some of the worst losses, and while it's too soon to call it the beginning of a trade war, investors aren't sticking around to find out if one is coming.

The forward price-to-earnings ratio for the S&P 500 Index is near levels it sank to during February's volatility shock. On Monday, the S&P posted its worst start to a quarter since October 2011 and saw the index fall below its 200-day moving average for the first time in nearly 2 years.

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.1 percent to 3,129.55 points and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 dropped 0.9 percent to 21,199.98.

Facebook stock also continued to fall Monday (2.75 percent) as the social network faces scrutiny over its sale and collection of user data.

With the S&P 500 in a 10 per cent correction from its record high in late January, investors were increasingly concerned a nine-year bull market might be in danger of ending. Stock in Amazon fell another 5.2 percent Monday after heavy losses late last week.

The Nasdaq gave up 193 points, or 2.7 percent, to 6,870.

Amazon.com rose almost 2 per cent, after closing down more than 5 per cent yesterday after President Donald Trump's latest attack on the online retailer. For his first year in office, a number of key advisers - including National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson - had tried to persuade Trump to be careful before following through on some of his trade threats, but both men have recently departed, and now Trump is surrounded by advisers who support some of these protectionist decisions. They were down 5.1 percent on Monday afternoon.

Wall Street rebounded following Monday's selloff as investors found value in beaten-down stocks.

Volatility was the theme in the US equity markets during the holiday-shortened week. Tesla shares dropped 5.1 percent as analysts raise flags about the company's ability to meet manufacturing goals and its billions of dollars in expected shortfalls. The company said Friday, after the markets closed, that a recent fatal crash of one of its cars involved an activated Autopilot.

Health insurer Humana Inc's (HUM.N) shares closed up 4.4 percent on news it was in talks with Walmart (WMT.N) to expand their partnership or possibly be acquired by the retailer. Walmart stock fell 3.8 per cent. Google's Alphabet, whose own data collection has come under fire in the wake of the Facebook scandal, fell 2.4 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 3.66-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.23-to-1 ratio favored advancers. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.72 percent from 2.74 percent after a sharp decline last week. Natural gas picked up 1 cent to $2.70 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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