Wall Street technology stocks rose on Wednesday, with strong gains for streaming companies after Netflix lost fewer subscribers than feared in the second quarter.
The tech-dominated Nasdaq Composite climbed as much as 1.9 per cent in early trading, but trimmed its gains after The Information reported that Google-parent Alphabet would temporarily pause new hiring.
The Nasdaq was 1 per cent higher by mid-afternoon, while the S&P 500 had nudged up 0.2 per cent.
Shares in Netflix rose 5.9 per cent after it said late on Tuesday that subscriber numbers fell less than forecast during the second quarter.
The company added that it was “confident and optimistic about the future”, even as its subscriber projections for the third quarter fell short of analysts’ expectations.
Scott Devitt, analyst at Stifel, said that with signs of stabilisation in the subscriber base emerging, “we believe the prospect of a prolonged period of subscriber losses is becoming increasingly unlikely”.
Netflix’s share-price move on Wednesday ricocheted across US equity markets, pulling other film, television and music streaming providers higher. Walt Disney gained 3.3 per cent, while Spotify added 3.1 per cent and streaming platform and hardware business Roku jumped 6 per cent. All of those stocks had dropped sharply after a warning over subscriber growth from Netflix in late April, in a sign of the group’s perception as a bellwether for shifting consumer sentiment and household finances.
However, Alphabet, which had climbed as much as 1.3 per cent earlier in the day, reversed course and was 0.4 per cent lower. It was the second time this week that reports of a hiring slowdown at a big tech group had knocked markets, following a Bloomberg report about Apple on Monday. Signs of strain at some of the US’s most valuable companies have emphasised concerns that the economy is heading toward a recession.
Elsewhere in equity markets, Europe’s regional Stoxx 600 gauge closed 0.2 per cent lower.
Government debt markets were broadly steady following a brief rally in eurozone bonds earlier in the session. The yield on Germany’s 10-year Bund, seen as a proxy for borrowing costs across the eurozone, slipped 0.02 percentage points to 1.20 per cent. Yields fall when prices rise. The equivalent US Treasury yield rose 0.01 percentage points to 3.03 per cent, while the 10-year UK gilt yield dipped 0.05 percentage points to 2.14 per cent.
Those moves came ahead of a much-anticipated European Central Bank monetary policy meeting on Thursday. The ECB has widely signalled that it is poised to lift borrowing costs for the first time since 2011 as it tackles red-hot inflation.
Rate-setters are expected to discuss the possibility of an extra-large 0.5 percentage points rise — a scenario that would take its deposit rate back up to zero for the first time since 2014 — but analysts remain divided over the likely scale of tightening.
“I don’t see 50 basis points tomorrow,” said Sabrina Kanniche, senior economist at Pictet Asset Management. “The growth outlook has deteriorated because of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and the implications for gas supply.”
The euro slipped 0.6 per cent against the dollar to $1.017.