Nasdaq dives over 2% as tech stocks slide at end of volatile week

  • Non-farm payrolls increase less than expected
  • DocuSign plunges after disappointing forecast
  • Nucor rises on hiking quarterly dividend by 23%
  • Indexes down: Dow 0.17%, S&P 0.91%, Nasdaq 2.07%

Dec 3 (Reuters) - Wall Street's major indexes fell in choppy trading on Friday, with the Nasdaq tumblingmore than 2%, as mixed jobs data, uncertainty around the Omicron coronavirus variant and the path of the Federal Reserve's policy tightening weighed.

The S&P 500 technology index (.SPLRCT) slid 1.9%, leading losses among the 11 major sectors.

Shares of Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Meta Platforms (FB.O), Google-owner Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), Inc (AMZN.O), Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) and Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) fell between 1.4% and 6.1% to weigh the most on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

"What you're seeing is the influence of technology and that is directly related to Apple, Microsoft and Nvidia etc. It's reverse of what we've seen historically where the main drivers of the index are the big stocks," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

Wall Street opened higher after the Labor Department's report showed nonfarm payrolls increased less than expected in November, but the unemployment rate dropped to 4.2%, the lowest since February 2020, and wages increased further. read more

"The numbers are indicating that the economy is very strong. So it is confirmation of some of the things that Powell was talking about on the Hill this week, and is supportive of the fact that you're probably going to see a more aggressive Fed," said Kingsview's Nolte.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said earlier this week that the U.S. central bank will consider at its upcoming meeting a faster wind-down to its bond-buying program to tackle surging price pressures, a move widely seen as opening the door to earlier interest rate hikes.

The cyclical-linked Dow (.DJI) and economy-sensitive S&P sectors like industrials (.SPLRCI), materials (.SPLRCM), energy (.SPNY) and financials (.SPSY) fared better in the day's broad selloff.

Separately, a measure of U.S. services industry activity hit a fresh record high in November as businesses boosted hiring. read more

A street sign for Wall Street is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

Equity markets have swung wildly this week as investors digested updates on the newly detected Omicron variant, which is spreading globally and prompting countries to reimpose travel restrictions.

"Even if Omicron is not too virulent, all of this, coupled with a hawkish Fed, speaks to increased caution for risk assets, although if corporate profits continue upward, overall equities should still rise except perhaps many of the most expensive ones," said John Vail, chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management.

The main three indexes are on course for steep weekly losses, with the Dow tracking its fourth straight fall.

Wall Street's fear gauge, the CBOE Market Volatility index (.VIX), was last trading at 30.70 points.

At 12:42 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) was down 60.24 points, or 0.17%, at 34,579.55, the S&P 500 (.SPX) was down 41.62 points, or 0.91%, at 4,535.48, and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) was down 319.08 points, or 2.07%, at 15,062.25.

DocuSign Inc (DOCU.O) plunged 40% after the electronic signature solutions firm forecast downbeat fourth-quarter revenue.

Nucor Corp (NUE.N) added 3.7% after the steel products maker increased its quarterly dividend by 23% and announced a $4 billion buyback program.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.52-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 3.94-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded eight new 52-week highs and five new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 12 new highs and 585 new lows.

Additional reporting by Anisha Sircar and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Maju Samuel

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