U.S. markets and stock exchange traded funds pared earlier gains and continued to decline toward session lows mid-Monday on fears of increased regulatory scrutiny on some technology giants.
On Monday, the Invesco QQQ Trust (NASDAQ: QQQ) fell 2.2%, SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (NYSEArca: DIA) was down 0.1% and SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY) declined 0.5%. The three widely observed U.S. market ETFs were also trading below their long-term trend line at the 200-day simple moving average.
The technology segment dragged on U.S. markets after the Federal Trade Commission secured rights to begin a potential antitrust investigation into Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB), the Wall Street Journal reports.
The FTC has spent over a year investigating Facebook on privacy issues related to the social media giant handles users’ data. The probe, though, does not touch upon antitrust questions on whether Facebook is stifling competition in the digital realm. With the commission formally securing jurisdiction on antitrust issues, it suggests that regulators are considering even greater scrutiny.
Facebook shares plunged 8.7% while Amazon.com (NasdaqGS: AMZN) plummeted 5.1% and Alphabet (NasdaqGS: GOOG) declined 7.0%.
Alphabet shares were already on shaky grounds earlier in the day on reports that the Justice Department had been given chief oversight over a Google probe.
The escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China briefly weakened semiconductor and tech-related shares, but the selling did ease somewhat before the reports of antitrust probes took over.
“People are just worried that these companies could be impacted by government regulations,” Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC, told Reuters. “The concerns that the government is going to get involved and possibly break these companies up or impose fines on their operations is a major concern here.”
Trade concerns eased briefly after Mexican officials said they could reach an agreement with the U.S. to resolve an immigration dispute that triggered President Donald Trump’s tariff threats last week.
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