Nasdaq falls as tech companies grilled in Congress

Nasdaq falls as tech companies grilled in Congress

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK: Technology shares were dragged lower by Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday (Sep 5) following tough questioning of their top executives by Congress as US stocks ended mixed.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 96.07 points (1.19 per cent) to 7,995.17.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 22.51 points (0.09 per cent) at 25,974.99, while the S&P 500 lost 8.12 points (0.28 per cent) at 2,888.60.

Facebook shed 2.3 per cent and Twitter lost 6.1 per cent after executives from the two social media companies acknowledged they had been caught off guard ahead of the 2016 US elections when their platforms were manipulated by Russian interests and other.

Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told a Senate panel they had taken steps to address the problem and pledged more action ahead.

The hearing elevated the prospect of tougher regulation from Washington on technology companies, an idea furthered later on Tuesday when the Justice Department said it would probe whether the platforms were stifling conservative ideas.

Tech shares were mostly lower, including Apple which slipped 0.7 per cent, Microsoft which dropped 2.9 per cent and Google-parent Alphabet which lost 0.9 per cent.

Stocks also were under pressure from trade worries as US trade deficit surged to US$50.1 billion in July, the second straight month with an increase, on record imports and as the deficits with China and the European Union hit all-time highs.

A higher trade deficit will dent third-quarter US growth and also could inflame US trade relations with key partners as President Donald Trump's administration confronts Canada, China and others.

Shares of CVS Health and Aetna rose 1.2 per cent and 1.4 per cent after the Wall Street Journal reported US antitrust officials were nearing approval of the drugstore chain's proposed purchase of the health insurer.

The same report said officials would also give the green light to Cigna's planned acquisition of Express Scripts. Express Scripts gained 3.3 per cent, while Cigna lost 0.6 per cent.

Source: AFP/de