LIVE MARKETS Nasdaq heads for biggest weekly drop since March 2020

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  • Major US indexes fall; banks, FANGs hit harder
  • Energy weakest major S&P sector; staples lead gainers
  • Euro STOXX 600 index slides ~2%
  • Dollar, crude, bitcoin lower; gold ~flat
  • U.S. 10-Year Treasury yield falls to ~1.75%

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NASDAQ HEADS FOR BIGGEST WEEKLY FALL SINCE MARCH 2020 (0958 EST/1458 GMT)

Wall Street's main indexes are continuing lower early Friday, and on track for at least their third-straight week of declines, after a weak forecast from Netflix sent shares of the streaming company and its peers spiraling down.

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Indeed, it's been an especially rough week for the Nasdaq (.IXIC). The tech-laden index is off more than 6%, putting it on pace for its biggest weekly percentage fall since a 12.6% collapse in March 2020. Under the surface, chips remain especially weak. The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index (.SOX), with a more than 11% slide, is also on pace for its worst week since a 16% swoon in March 2020.

Meanwhile, despite a sharp downward reversal in the U.S. 10-Year Treasury yield , which has seen it slide from Wednesday's high of 1.9020% back to the 1.75% area on Friday read more , growth (.IGX) is on track to underperform value (.IVX) on the day, and for the fourth-straight week. The IGX/IVX ratio is on pace for its biggest monthly drop since February 2001.

Here is where markets stand in early trade:

earlytrade01212022

(Terence Gabriel)

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UKRAINE TENSIONS COULD FAVOR US ASSETS (931 EST/1431 GMT)

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine are grabbing the attention of investors, who are considering ways any turmoil will ripple through markets.

Strategists at BCA Research assign a 50/50 probability that diplomacy in the region will fail, leading to a "minor invasion" of Ukraine, as well as a 5% chance Russia invades the whole country. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said after talks with Russia's foreign minister on Friday that Moscow would face a "swift, severe and a united response" if it invades Ukraine.

In a note on Friday, BCA strategists gamed out a scenario where Russian actions result in sanctions, with Russia retaliating in a way that aggravates Europe's "energy crisis."

"For investors, this means that US-Russia tensions pose a tactical threat to European risk assets," BCA strategists wrote.

Historically, the strategists said, U.S. risk assets have outperformed foreign counterparts when global risk rises.

"The relatively more defensive nature of the US dollar and US equities implies that US stocks and the greenback will outperform in an environment of elevated risk," the strategists said.

(Lewis Krauskopf)

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NASDAQ COMPOSITE: WILY COYOTE LOOKING MORE LIKE A BEAR (0900 EST/1400 GMT)

The Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) ended Thursday down nearly 12% from its November-19 record close. And although its just the early days of 2022, the IXIC's 9.5% decline so far puts it on track for its biggest yearly drop since 2008.

Of note, on a daily basis, the IXIC ended Thursday at its most oversold since the February/March 2020 panic read more :

IXIC01212021

Therefore, the Composite appears ripe for a bounce at any time. However, traders will be assessing the structure and character of any rally, since sudden strength could just prove to be a reaction to help alleviate the oversold condition, in what will still prove to be a continuing trend to the downside.

For example, in the August/December 2018, and February/March 2020 collapses, the deepest oversold readings on a daily basis occurred in the earlier stages of the declines. It was not until the IXIC hit new lows, accompanied by a bullish momentum convergence, that true bottoms were then found.

Meanwhile, a number of Nasdaq internal measures are especially weak again. The Nasdaq New High/New Low (NH/NL) index has fallen to 16.1% - click here: read more . The Nasdaq McClellan Summation (McSum) has plunged to -5,276 - click here: read more . The Nasdaq weekly Advance/Decline (A/D) ratio is at 0.79 read more . These measures have yet to stabilize, but have the potential to reach washed-out levels at any time.

That said, when looking at the Composite's yearly Bollinger Band (BB) chart, the downside still appears to beckon. The IXIC still needs to fall to least 13,645 to tick back below the upper yearly band. Click here: read more

At that level, the Composite would be down 15% from its record-high close. And if its nine-year streak of yearly closes above the upper-yearly BB is to end, 2022 will likely see some venerable roadrunners, like tech (.SPLRCT), chips (.SOX), and FANGs (.NYFANG), prove to be road-kill.

(Terence Gabriel)

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Terence Gabriel is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own

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