Nasdaq drops 2.5% in tech stock sell-off
Technology companies led a sell-off on Wall Street Thursday that pulled the major indexes into the red for the week.
The S&P 500 fell 1.4% after shedding an early gain of 0.4%. The benchmark index was coming off two days of gains following daily losses since the first day of trading in 2022. The tech-heavy Nasdaq slumped 2.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5%.
The selling came as investors gauged company earnings reports and new data pointing to rising prices at the wholesale level. Inflation has been a key focus for investors as they try to gauge how rising prices will impact businesses, consumers and the Federal Reserve's policy on interest rates in 2022.
Fed nominee says inflation is priority
Lael Brainard, President Joe Biden's nominee for the Federal Reserve's No. 2 spot, said Thursday that combating high inflation is the central bank's top priority and said she believed the Fed could reduce it without sacrificing economic growth.
Testifying at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee, Brainard noted that inflation is "too high, and working people around the country are concerned about how far their paychecks will go."
"We are taking actions that I have confidence will be bringing inflation down, while continuing to allow the labor market to return to full strength over time," she said.
Twitter, Meta get subpoenas
Months after requesting documents from more than a dozen social platforms, the House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection has issued subpoenas targeting Twitter, Meta, Reddit and YouTube after lawmakers said the companies' initial responses were inadequate.
The committee chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, demanded records Thursday from the companies relating to their role in allegedly spreading misinformation about the 2020 election and promoting domestic violent extremism on their platforms in the lead-up to the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.
"Two key questions for the Select Committee are how the spread of misinformation and violent extremism contributed to the violent attack on our democracy, and what steps — if any — social media companies took to prevent their platforms from being breeding grounds for radicalizing people to violence," Thompson, D-Miss., said in the letter.
Wholesale price gains jump to record 9.7%
Prices at the wholesale level surged by a record 9.7% for all of 2021, setting an annual record and providing further evidence that inflation is still present at all levels of the U.S. economy.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that its producer price index, which measures inflation before it reaches consumers, did slow on a monthly basis, rising just 0.2% in December compared with November, when prices had shot up 1%.
The 12-month increase in wholesale inflation of 9.7% was also lower than a revised 9.8% increase for the 12 months ending in November. However, the government uses the December to December change for the yearly increase and on that basis the 9.7% rise was the fastest annual jump on record, far above the 0.8% increase in 2020 and the 1.4% rise in 2019.
Microsoft reviews policy for sexual harassment
Microsoft says it will review its policies regarding sexual harassment and gender discrimination and publicly release the results of investigations into allegations involving members of the board of directors and senior leadership, including Bill Gates.
The board announced Thursday that Microsoft would hire a third-party law firm to conduct a review that would assess the company's practices, examine those policies against "best practices" adopted by other companies and look at the steps Microsoft has taken to hold employees and executives accountable. The review will culminate in a public report — expected in the spring — that will include data on the number of sexual harassment cases investigated as well as their resolutions.
"We're committed not just to reviewing the report but learning from the assessment so we can continue to improve the experiences of our employees," Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement.
The report follows a shareholder resolution that passed in 2021. The resolution sought a report on the effectiveness of the company's workplace sexual harassment policies in light of claims of sexual harassment, including allegations that Gates sought to have inappropriate relationships with employees.
— Compiled by Dave Flessner