Big Tech no longer has to run the stock market
One by one, the worries that have hung over the stock market have faded.
Fears that the US economy would dip into a recession this year have eased. The Federal Reserve seems to have finished raising interest rates in the foreseeable future, and optimism has increased so that the US and China could end their trade war.
But if January is spoken back (it was the best start of a year for stocks for decades, after the worst December for stocks for an even longer period), maintaining is, major technology companies will probably have to lead the way.
So far this year they have not.
For much of the last decade, the fate of the stock market has been linked to the execution of a handful of the largest technology companies: Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, Microsoft and Netflix led the market from one plate to the next.
At the end of August, their turn over the direction of S & P 500 exceeded anything other than two of the index's 11 sector groupings. When the index pushed for a record high last year, the increase in these six companies' shares accounted for half of the gain. They also led their way down, pulling the broad market lower over the last three months of 2018, and almost finished the longest bull market on record.
So it is noteworthy since the S&P 500 totaled nearly 8 percent in January, the major technology stores accounted for just 17 percent of the benchmark's increase, according to data from Howard Silverblatt, senior indices analyst for S&P Dow Jones Indices.
Companies have met a fundamental question since last year: Can they continue to attract new users and generate more sales in a weakening global economy? Sales growth began to slow in the second half of 2018, and earnings updates in January have not completely resolved investors' concerns about their path.
"This is the first quarter of my memory that technology at all has worse estimates than the S&P 500," said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute, referring to earnings growth in major technology businesses.
After Apple warned of reduced demand for new iPhones in China earlier this year, the forecast for the current quarter was not as bad as many on Wall Street had feared. The shares have then received 7.7 per cent. Nevertheless, the iPhone manufacturer reported sales by 15 percent, including a 27 percent decline in China, and the results showed a difficult path ahead. The company's shares are almost 30 per cent below peak.
Amazon reported record profits and revenues. But the shares were down 5.4 percent on Friday, partly because online shopping revenue was reduced, and Prime membership growth seemed to have plateau.
The Microsoft shares have fallen 3.4 percent since it reported Wednesday. The revenue of the software giant has increased in recent years, as its commitment to cloud computing has paid off, but there remained indicative of the acceleration of its acceleration.
Facebook, whose shares were most plagued by the big tech companies last year, was perhaps the bright spot this earnings period. Despite a number of scandals, the social network generated record revenues and profits last year. Its shares have jumped 10.5 percent since Wednesday.
Netflix also said revenue would grow slowly in the quarter. The company's share is down to almost 3.8 percent since it was reported on January 17.
There is a big warning for all quotas to slow down growth: All five companies still generate huge revenues. And should Beijing and Washington reach an agreement in the commercial war, sales can pick up if global economy, especially China, is starting to accelerate.
"It was real concern that technology was canary in the coal mine of what would be very dark in 2019," said Daniel Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities covering technology businesses. "So far, many of these fears are overloaded. It can set the stage for tech to make new heights this year, depending on what's happening with China."