Dow Slumps as Volatility Sideline Bulls; GameStock Jumps Despite RobinHood Limits By

© Reuters

By Yasin Ebrahim –   The Dow slumped Friday, paced by energy and technology stocks as the ongoing short-squeeze triggered a sharp jump in volatility and prompted investors to pause their bullish bets on the final trading day of the month.

The fell 1.57%, or 479 points, but was down more than 700 points intraday. The was down 1.46%, while the fell 1.57%.

Easing trading restrictions on several platforms prompting retailer traders to put the squeeze on short-sellers once again. GameStop Corp (NYSE:) jumped 70% to lead the pack of  short-squeeze stocks including AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (NYSE:), Express Inc (NYSE:), BlackBerry (NYSE:), Nokia Corp ADR (NYSE:) Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:).


The short-squeeze stocks eased from their highs, but held the bulk of their gains even after RobinHood reduced the number of the short-squeeze stocks traders can buy from to a single share. 

The – or so-called fear gauge – jumped more than 23% to a nearly three-month high, giving investors further reason to hit pause on stocks into month-end.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:), meanwhile, slumped 3% after its released vaccine candidate demonstrated a 66% overall efficacy rate in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19.

The trials, however, included newly emerging coronavirus strains from South Africa and the U.K. The vaccine was also shown to be 85% effective in preventing hospitalization and severe illness.

Top U.S. infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci said the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine news was “very encouraging” in controlling Covid-19, though added that the highly transmissible variants were a “wake up call” for the public.

Cyclical stocks including financials and energy led the broader market slump, with the latter getting hit from sluggish oil prices on fears prolonged Covid-19 restrictions will continue to hamper demand.

The broader sentiment on risk was also hurt by signs of ongoing slack in the recovery as the consumer spending fell for the second-straight, while the pace of inflation inched higher.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, fell 0.2% last month, but economists suggest the spending will rebound as the reopening of the economy will boost services activity.

“[T]he recent soft patch in spending was driven by goods rather than services … the good news is that both sources of weakness – fiscal policy and COVID – are no longer an issue as we look ahead to Q1 and beyond,” Jefferies (NYSE:) said in a note.

Big tech also played a role in the day of selling on Wall Street as the Fab 5 sold off sharply. (NASDAQ:), Facebook (NASDAQ:), Google-parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:) and Microsoft  (NASDAQ:) traded higher, while Apple (NASDAQ:) fell more than 1%.

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