US STOCKS-Wall Street pulls back, weighed down by tech

Reuters

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    * Fed's Powell pushes back against asset bubble worries
    * Growth stocks resume slide
    * Tesla falls as bitcoin sell-off weighs
    * Home Depot slips on consumer spending outlook
    * Indexes down: Dow 0.21%, S&P 0.41%, Nasdaq 1.47%    

 (Updates to late afternoon, changes dateline, byline)
    By Stephen Culp
    NEW YORK, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Wall Street retreated on
Tuesday as investors shifted away from mega-cap growth stocks,
but the sell-off eased following reassurances from U.S. Federal
Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
    All three major U.S. indexes were in the red, driven by
declines in market-leading tech and tech-adjacent companies
which drove the rally that had pushed indexes to record levels
despite economic lockdowns.
    "A lot of the 'pandemic plays' that saw outsized growth are
going to see a slowing of that growth," said Tim Ghriskey, chief
investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York. "But I
don't think it's going to go away."
    "Growth doesn't stop after the pandemic."
    Apple Inc  AAPL.O , Amazon.com  AMZN.O  and Microsoft Corp
 MSFT.O  were among the heaviest weights on the S&P 500, and
more acutely, on the tech-heavy Nasdaq.
    Fed Chairman Jerome Powell eased concerns that the central
bank's economic support increased the risk of an inflating asset
bubble, and insisted that the central bank's accommodative
monetary policy would remain in place for "some time."
    In prepared remarks ahead of his testimony before the Senate
Banking Committee, Powell said the economic recovery was "uneven
and far from complete," later adding that investors are mostly
responding to an anticipated rebound as vaccine deployment curbs
the pandemic.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2KT11N
    "If you look back at (Powell's) initial tenure, there was
some ambiguity as to where the Fed stood," said Matthew Keator,
managing partner in the Keator Group, a wealth management firm
in Lenox, Massachusetts. "But over the last year, in response to
the pandemic, he's done an excellent job communicating their
commitment to stable markets and full employment."
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI  fell 67.55 points,
or 0.21%, to 31,454.14, the S&P 500  .SPX  lost 15.81 points, or
0.41%, to 3,860.69 and the Nasdaq Composite  .IXIC  dropped
199.48 points, or 1.47%, to 13,333.57.
    Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, five were in
negative territory, with consumer discretionary  .SPLRCD  and
tech  .SPLRCT  shares suffering the largest percentage losses. 
    Tesla Inc  TSLA.O  plunged 3.8% to enter red territory for
the year, pulled down amid the tech selloff and falling bitcoin 
 BTC=BTSP , which were down 13.9%. Tesla recently invested $1.5
billion in the cryptocurrency.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2KT396
    Cryptocurrency miners Riot Blockchain Inc  RIOT.O  and
Marathon Patent Group Inc  MARA.O  plunged 24.0% and 22.7%,
respectively, while bitcoin bank Silvergate Capital Corp  SI.N 
slid 23.3%.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2KT09F
    Home improvement retailer Home Depot Inc  HD.N  posted
better-than-expected quarterly earnings. But it cast doubt on 
whether spiking sales, driven by homebound consumers taking on 
do-it-yourself projects amid COVID lockdowns, are sustainable
going forward. Its shares were the heaviest drag on the Dow,
falling 3.4%.
    Smaller rival Lowe's Companies Inc  LOW.N , expected to
report its results early Wednesday, was down 2.7%
    Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a
2.30-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 4.04-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
    The S&P 500 posted 46 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 137 new highs and 53 new lows.  

 (Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
 ((stephen.culp@thomsonreuters.com; 646-223-6076;))

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