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Dow Jones Falls Below 35,000 on Boeing and Tech Stock Sell-Offs, Delta Variant Worries

By Jason Hall – Jul 27, 2021 at 3:24PM

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One day after reaching a record, the Dow is retreating ahead of earnings from three key components this afternoon.

So much for another record. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.45%) was down 232 points as of 2:03 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, back below 35,000 just one trading session after hitting a record high. Shares of beleaguered semiconductor maker Intel (INTC -1.11%) were down almost 4%, with fellow tech giants Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) down almost 2%, and Apple (AAPL -1.96%) and Microsoft (MSFT -0.04%) off 1.5% or more ahead of earnings reports after market close this afternoon. 

Shares of aerospace giant Boeing (BA 2.01%) were also off more than 2% today, joining broader stock market declines as investors once again weigh the implications of the delta coronavirus variant taking a bite out of what has been a very strong global economic resurgence. 

Patient takes selfie while receiving injection.

Vaccination rates are slowing, while cases of COVID-19 from the highly transmissible delta variant surge. Image source: Getty Images.

Tech giants tumble ahead of anticipated earnings, coronavirus worries

Tech stocks are in a bit of a sell-off, with the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT: XLK), which tracks all of the tech stocks in the S&P 500 Index, down 2% at this writing and the worst-performing sector in the index. Looking at the Dow Jones' tech components, they're all trading lower today.

Intel's post-earnings sell-off continues. Since it reported earnings after market close on July 22, shares are down more than 6%. Today's move lower for Intel is likely tied to this afternoon's earnings release from AMD (AMD -1.65%), which is expected to report continued market share gains from Intel. 

For Apple and Microsoft, which will report after the market closes today, their declines are likely tied to today's broader market declines, with both companies expected to deliver record results. The NASDAQ Composite and Russell 2000 indexes are both down nearly 2% at this writing, as investors continue to weigh the risks of the ongoing surge in COVID cases due to the delta variant potentially upending a global economic recovery. 

3M beats expectations, raises full-year outlook

3M (MMM 0.81%) reported second-quarter results before trading opened today, with revenue up 28% to $8.9 billion, and earnings up 15% to $2.25 per share. For the first six months of the fiscal year, earnings are up more than 19% to $5.36 per share.

Based on these strong results, and expectations that business will continue to be strong for the rest of the year, management boosted its full-year outlook. It expects full-year sales will grow 8.5% at the midpoint of guidance, with full-year EPS of $9.90 at the midpoint. At the end of the prior quarter, management was expecting sales to grow 6.5% for the full year, and EPS of $9.45. 

Healthcare execs cautiously optimistic about the delta variant 

The delta variant is a significant threat to the unvaccinated, as well as some higher-risk individuals who have been vaccinated, according to healthcare experts. However, executives of pharma and medical device companies Abbott Laboratories (ABT 0.89%) and Intuitive Surgical (ISRG 0.26%), and healthcare (and Dow Jones component) Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 0.13%) all had generally positive things to say about the limited risk the variant is likely to have for their prospects

Two things are particularly compelling about the comments from these three companies' CEOs. First, they're all leaders of healthcare businesses with expertise that should make them better at measuring the delta variant's risk than leaders of other companies are. Second, none of these companies count on a coronavirus therapy or vaccine for a major portion of their business. (Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine is a tiny contributor to its overall business.) 

Put it together, and that's helpful for investors more broadly. It's not the same as saying that we shouldn't expect a market crash, or that there will be a perfectly healthy and uninterrupted economic recovery, but it is helpful in factoring in the near-term risks of the delta variant. 

Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Jason Hall owns shares of Intuitive Surgical. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Advanced Micro Devices, Apple, Intuitive Surgical, Microsoft, and Salesforce.com. The Motley Fool recommends 3M, Intel, and Johnson & Johnson and recommends the following options: long January 2022 $580 calls on Intuitive Surgical, long January 2023 $57.50 calls on Intel, long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple, short January 2022 $600 calls on Intuitive Surgical, short January 2023 $57.50 puts on Intel, and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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