The technology sector dropped sharply on trade concerns Monday, dragging down the broader market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) were in negative territory all day. A decision by the Trump administration to block sales to Huawei battered semiconductor stocks, with the iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF (NASDAQ:SOXX) falling 4%.
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As for individual stocks, there was a positive development for the proposed merger between T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS) and Sprint (NYSE:S), and Google parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) reportedly plans to restrict Huawei's access to the Android operating system.
The merger of T-Mobile and Sprint gets a vote of confidence
T-Mobile and Sprint won the support of the chairman of Federal Communications Commission for the merger of the two companies based on a commitment to bring 5G wireless to rural America, sending shares of Sprint soaring 18.8% and those of T-Mobile up 3.9%.
Chairman Ajit Pai released a statement describing commitments the companies have made, saying the merger would advance two of the agency's top priorities: the closing of the digital divide in rural America and the advancement of United States leadership in 5G. Pai said that Sprint and T-Mobile have committed to deploying a 5G network that will cover 97% of the country's population within three years of the closure of the merger and 99% within six years. The combined company will also roll out an in-home broadband product that would be available to rural households.
Sprint will divest its Boost Mobile subsidiary and the two companies agreed not to raise prices for three years. Investors have been concerned that regulators would block the merger, but today's vote of confidence from the FCC chair improves the odds of success, though the Justice Department still has to weigh in on whether the deal would harm competition.
Google to cut Android access to Huawei
Last week, President Trump signed an executive order requiring the sale of technology to foreign telecommunication companies to be approved in advance by the U.S. government, a move that effectively put Chinese telecom equipment specialist Huawei on a trade blacklist. That decision is rippling through the company's suppliers, with The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reporting that Alphabet's Google unit will restrict Huawei's access to some Android services on its smartphones. Alphabet Class C shares fell 2%.
According to WSJ, a person familiar with the matter said that Huawei will have access to the public version of Android, but won't have access to proprietary features from Google, which would include some artificial intelligence and photography functions.
The ban on sales to Huawei is a challenge for American technology companies, since the Chinese giant is the No. 2 supplier of smartphones globally and the biggest maker of telecom gear. Stocks of chipmakers like Qualcomm, Lumentum Holdings, Broadcom, and Intel all dropped today.