Stocks Are Mixed; Tesla's (TSLA) Decline Pushes Nasdaq Lower

The Nasdaq reversed its earlier gains as Tesla, Inc. (TSLA) slumped 8%, while the Dow Jones and S&P 500 pared this morning's increases and are now only nominally higher.

Intel Corporation (INTC) joined Tesla in helping push the Nasdaq lower. Tesla dropped after the company reported that supply chain problems may crimp production, and  CEO Elon Musk said that the company may not offer new models this year. Intel shares fell after chipmaker said that production has been hurt by shortages of parts because of supply chain disruptions.

Key Takeaways

  • Stocks are mixed, with the Nasdaq being pushed lower by declines in Tesla and Intel.
  • The Dow Jones and S&P 500 pared earlier gains and are now only nominally higher as investors grapple with the prospect of higher interest rates.
  • Investors are assessing how a potential March interest rate hike will affect growth and future profits.

Stocks had gained this morning after the Commerce Department said the economy grew 6.9% in the fourth quarter, which was more than economists anticipated. Investors are assessing how a potential March interest rate hike will affect growth and future profits.

Shares of Dow Inc. (DOW), Seagate Technology Holdings Plc (STX), and ServiceNow, Inc. (NOW) are jumping after the companies announced better-than-expected results. Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) shares are gaining following word that billionaire investor Bill Ackman's hedge fund purchased more than 3 million shares of the streaming service.

Bond yields are ticking back up midday, with the rate on the 10-year Treasury note at 1.79%, narrower than at the open. Oil futures lost their earlier gains and are trading lower. The dollar remains stronger against the euro, and major cryptocurrencies are trading lower.

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Economic Growth Jumps: Chart of the Day

Real GDP: Percent Change From Preceding Quarter

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

The U.S. economy grew more than expected in the fourth quarter as the higher COVID-19 vaccination rates and other steps taken to recover from the pandemic helped boost consumer spending and business investment.

The Commerce Department reported its advance estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) showing that the economy expanded at an annualized rate of 6.9% in the fourth quarter, more than economists' forecasts and well above the 2.3% gain in the previous quarter. In addition, GDP growth for all of 2021 was 5.7%, the biggest yearly advance since 1984.

The report noted that personal consumption expenditures increased as Americans spent more on healthcare, recreation, and transportation. Gains in private inventory investment were registered in both retail and wholesale trade industries, with the retail sector led by motor vehicle dealers. Exports rose as more goods were shipped overseas, and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions allowed for expanded international travel. Business spending on nonresidential fixed investment was up as well. 

The economy had decreases in federal, state, and local government spending, most notably on defense, and an increase in imports (which are counted as negative to GDP).

Intel: Stock of the Day

Intel is the worst-performing stock in the Dow Jones 30 as the semiconductor giant said that costs to increase production will limit earnings in the current quarter. Intel forecast first quarter earnings per share (EPS) of $0.80, short of analysts' estimates, as manufacturing costs squeeze gross margins.

CEO Pat Gelsinger indicated that the company remains committed to building up its capacity and will "relentlessly execute" that strategy. Just last week, Intel announced that it was spending $20 billion on two chipmaking factories in Ohio. 

In the fourth quarter, Intel reported non-GAAP revenue rising 4% to $19.5 billion and EPS of $1.09. Both exceeded expectations. The company credited the sales gains to record performances in its Data Center Group and Internet of Things Group.

Intel also raised its annual dividend to $1.46 from $1.39. Shares of Intel are falling 6% today, and they’re down 12% over the past year. 

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  1. U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. "Gross Domestic Product."

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