By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com — U.S. stock markets opened lower on Tuesday, losing overnight gains after new data showed house and rental prices rising at some of the fastest rates on record, reviving fears of an early end to the Federal Reserve’s pandemic-era stimulus programs.
The market had hit new record highs on Monday, confident after Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s speech on Friday that the ‘tapering’ of bond purchases would not start before December. However, figures released on Tuesday showed house prices rising at an annual rate of over 19% in July, a sharp reminder of how the Fed’s liquidity creation has helped drive various key asset prices higher. The figures came after four of Powell’s colleagues at the Fed – all of them regional Fed presidents who are typically more concerned about the impact of policy at local level – all argued for tapering to being ‘sooner rather than later’.
By 9:40 AM ET (1340 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 34 points, or 0.1%, at 35,366 points. The S&P 500 was down a little less than 0.2% and the NASDAQ Composite was down by 0.2%.
The market was also unsettled by signs of realization that even stellar growth stories have their limits. Zoom Video (NASDAQ:ZM), whose revenue quadrupled last year as the pandemic forced the accelerated mass-adoption of videoconferencing, fell 16% after saying revenue would grow only 51% this year. The fact that this was a modest increase from its previous guidance made little difference.
Zoom’s growth over the last year has left it trading at a level 25 times this year’s expected sales and 120 times its expected earnings as of Monday evening, according to data compiled by Investing.com, Such multiples demand extraordinary and sustained growth.
Another previously hot growth story, Uber (NYSE:UBER), rose 0.8%, after news that it had pocketed $1 billion from exiting joint ventures in food delivery, logistics and self-driving technology in Russia. Its partner, Yandex (NASDAQ:YNDX), which is buying Uber out, rose 2.6% to an all-time high. Uber stock had on Monday fallen to its lowest level since Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) both declared the effectiveness of their Covid-19 vaccines in November.
Elsewhere, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock lost 0.7% and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) C-class stock lost 0.1% after South Korea enacted a new law that may have far-reaching consequences if its key principle if adopted by other countries. South Korea will in future force the two to allow third-parties to process payments for their app stores, exposing a high-margin and essentially monopolistic business to competition.
Such concerns have already led to the EU fining Alphabet $4.3 billion for abusing its dominant position on the Google Play store and also to charges against Apple for its behavior with its own app store.
Robinhood (NASDAQ:HOOD) stock appeared to bottom out, a day after Securities and Exchanges Commission head Gary Gensler labeled its business model of accepting payment for its clients’ order flow as an “inherent” conflict of interest. Gensler warned in an interview with Barron’s that regulation to ban the practice was “on the table”. Charles Schwab (NYSE:SCHW), which like many brokerages has been forced to imitate Robinhood’s model due to its success, fell another 1.8%. Both stocks had already fallen heavily on Monday.