Stocks dug into modest opening losses Friday as regulators pursued Tesla’s (TSLA) chief executive and European markets dived on complications in Italy.
Tesla and Progress Software (PRGS) were be the morning’s downside leaders. Tesla dropped 12% after the Securities and Exchange Commission filed suit against CEO Elon Musk. Progress dived 16% on mixed quarterly results. Chip stocks were generally quiet, but Nvidia (NVDA) surged early, following a massive price target hike.
The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 futures each shed 0.2%. The Nasdaq Composite trimmed its early decline to 0.2%. Nvidia led both the Nasdaq and the S&P 500. Tesla posted the heaviest drop among Nasdaq 100 stocks. Progress fell to the bottom of the S&P 600 list.
The final trading session of September as well as the third quarter finds the Dow and S&P 500 down for the week, but with gains of 1.8% and 0.4%, respectively, for the month. The Nasdaq has slipped 0.8% in September. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are sitting atop five-month rallies, and just below record highs. The Dow is also just below its Sept. 21 record, and set to snap a two-month advance.
The month was tougher on small caps than on mid- and large-cap issues. The Russell 2000 heads into Friday’s open down 2.9% for the month. The small-cap S&P 600 is down 3.7%.
Europe’s markets were sharply lower, but off their early afternoon lows. Italy’s antiestablishment government voted to boost its 2019 budget deficit to 2.4%, which would put it in violation of European Union limits. Frankfurt’s DAX deepened its loss to 1.7%, while the CAC-40 in Paris fell 1% and London’s FTSE 100 dropped 0.4%.
Tesla shares tumbled into an early breakdown, which ending the stock’s attempt to retake support at its converged 10- and 40-week moving averages. The stock opened still well above its early September lows, however, leaving the stock chart’s current consolidation intact.
On the S&P 500, Nvidia climbed 1.7%, after Evercore ISI amped up the stock’s price target to 400, from 300 — a full 50% above Thursday’s closing price. Analyst C.J. Muse said investors are coming to appreciate Nvidia’s strengths in artificial intelligence. The premarket move positioned shares to rebound from a test of support at its 50-day moving average, suggesting the stock would open back above a flat base buy point at 269.30. Premarket moves do not always carry over into regular trade.
Also on the S&P 500, home improvement retailer Lowe’s (LOW) advanced 1.2% following an upgrade to buy, from hold, by SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. The report also raised the stock’s price target to 138, from 110. Lowe’s shares are extended, up nearly 13% since clearing a cup-with-handle buy point at 101.43 in July. The stock is about 2% below its Sept. 21 high.
On the Dow, Home Depot (HD) jumped 1%, borrowing some spillover momentum from Lowe’s. Home Depot remains in a buy range above a 204.35 buy point in a flat base. The buy point runs to 214.56.
Early economic data came in just below expectations. Personal income rose 0.3% month-over-month in August, even with July’s levels and below forecasts for a 0.4% gain. Consumer spending growth eased to 0.3%, down from July’s 0.4% gain, but in line with analyst targets.
The PCE Price inflation gauge edged up 0.1%, equal to July but less than the 0.2% estimate. Year-over-year, prices were up 2.2%. Down from 2.3% in July and just below expectations for another 2.3% advance.
Manufacturing activity slowed in the Midwest in September, sending Kingsbury International’s Chicago Purchasing Managers Index to 60.4, down from 63.6 in August. Economists had called for a lesser downtick, to 62.3. Numbers above 50 indicate expansion.
rolls out at 9:45 a.m. ET and the University of Michigan offers its final take on September consumer sentiment at 10 a.m. ET. Baker Hughes releases its weekly rig count survey at 1 p.m. ET.
China stock markets ended September on a positive note, with the Shanghai Composite up 0.3% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index up 0.3%. For the month, the Shanghai benchmark surged 3.5%. The Hang Seng slipped 0.4% in a fifth straight monthly decline.
In Japan, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 leapt 1.4% Friday. That let the index finish up 5.6% for September, adding a fourth month to its rebound and leaving the index just a shade below its high from January.
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