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S&P 500 Swings From Gains to Losses as Tech Giants Tumble

By Jason Hall – Jul 13, 2020 at 6:35PM

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PepsiCo giant kicked off the week with solid earnings, and a major gambling market is set to reopen this week. It wasn't enough to keep stocks from turning down sharply at the end of the day as we head into earnings season.

Well, so much for getting back in the black for the year. After spending most of the day up, and putting the index back in positive territory for 2020, the S&P 500 Index (^GSPC -0.32%) lost 30 points, or nearly 1%, on July 13. 

Snack and beverage giant PepsiCo (PEP 0.06%) reported earnings that made investors happy, and casino stocks Wynn Resorts (WYNN 0.52%), Last Vegas Sands Corp (LVS 0.29%), and MGM Resorts International (MGM 0.34%), up on news that Macao is set to open up to more visitors. But that wasn't enough to make up for losses from the biggest of the mega-cap tech giants that dominate the index. Apple (AAPL -0.75%)Microsoft (MSFT -0.81%) (AMZN -1.21%)Alphabet (GOOG -1.64%) (GOOGL -1.44%), and Facebook (META -1.29%), with a combined market cap of $6.6 trillion, all finished the day in negative territory. Amazon and Microsoft were the biggest losers, falling 3%. 

Man watches red line crash lower.

Image source: Getty Images.

Are investors getting anxious with earnings season set to kick off in earnest this week? It sure looked that way at the end of today's trading session. 

Casinos getting some good news in Asia

Wynn, Las Vegas Sands, and MGM all got multiple pieces of good news on Macau, home to some of their biggest and most important casinos. First, Guangdong Province in China, a major gateway to Macau, is set to ease a 14-day quarantine requirement for visitors coming from Macau this week that essentially cut off travel from an important region to Macau's casinos. 

In addition to Guangdong's action to remove the biggest roadblock to Chinese travel to and from Macau, travelers leaving Macau by ferry or air will now be able to present a negative COVID-19 test from within the past seven days, aiming at reducing the spread while also opening up travel between other important hubs that connect visitors to Macau. 

After spending much of the trading session up more than 6% -- and gaining almost 15% at Wynn -- the three are on track to close with more modest gains. The market's overall shift from buying to selling is a reminder that casinos face a long road forward. Their prospects are improving as more of their resorts are able to open to more visitors, but most are still losing large amounts of money and could continue to do so for the rest of the year. 

PepsiCo showed off its recession resistance 

The food and beverage giant reported second-quarter results that included a 3% decline in revenue and a 18% profit drop as its core beverage business suffered under the weight of restaurant closures and the long-term trend of fewer consumer purchases of soda. But earnings of $1.18 per share were solid, particularly considering it happened in the midst of the sharpest economic dip in U.S. history. 

Food sales helped underpin its solid results, with Frito-Lay and Quaker Foods brand sales up 23% in North America as consumers spent more on food at supermarkets during the months that saw millions of Americans under stay-at-home orders. The company finished the quarter with $9 billion in cash, and its continued profitability ensures its ability to keep paying a dividend the company has increased for 47 straight years.  

After spending much of the day up more than 2%, PepsiCo stock followed the market down near the close, finishing with a modest 0.3% gain. 

Tech giants brings the index lower with earnings season kicking off

It's a bit ironic that the same stocks that have helped buoy the S&P 500 this year played a hand in today's turn from gains to losses. The largest six companies in the index largely set the tone. Today, that was a decidedly negative turn in the last couple of hours: 

^SPX Chart

^SPX data by YCharts

Of the largest half-dozen stocks, only Alphabet had a better day than the broader S&P 500, and even it was still down 0.34% after two analysts raised their price targets for the iStuff maker. 

These megacap stocks weren't the only members of the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC -0.65%) to fall today. The tech index lost 227 points, or about 2%, on a day where tech stock investors sold heavily near the close of trading. 

As a group, these megatech stocks have done a lot of heavy lifting in 2020, all outperforming the S&P 500 and helping the smaller, tech-focused Nasdaq Composite deliver double-digit gains this year: 

AAPL Chart

AAPL data by YCharts

Whether technology companies can continue driving positive returns through the rest of the year, and with coronavirus still a significant health and economic risk, remains to be seen. 

Looking ahead

This week, earnings season kicks off in earnest, with the largest banks including CitiGroup (C 0.53%)JPMorgan Chase (JPM 0.01%)Wells Fargo (WFC -0.87%), and Bank of America (BAC -1.03%) all reporting earnings, along with Delta Airlines (DAL 0.72%) and homebuilder NVR (NVR 0.42%)

If you're looking for a solid update on the state of the economic environment in the U.S., banks, airlines, and homebuilders are a great place to start. Stay tuned for more tomorrow. 

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Jason Hall owns shares of Alphabet (A shares), Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and NVR. The Motley Fool recommends Delta Air Lines and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $85 calls on Microsoft, short January 2021 $115 calls on Microsoft, short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon, and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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