Stock Market Today: Dow Sinks 433 Points to Start Christmas Week

Rising omicron COVID-19 cases and Senator Manchin's decision not to vote for the Build Back Better bill weighed on stocks today.

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

Christmas week started with stocks seeing lots of red as investors hit the exits amid a slew of worries.

Most notably, a spike in the number of omicron COVID-19 cases, which prompted several countries to initiate new restrictions, including lockdowns, ahead of the holiday. (As a reminder, the stock market will be closed Friday for Christmas.)

Additionally, over the weekend, news emerged that Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, will not support President Joe Biden's Build Back Better (BBB) bill, putting the nearly $2 trillion social infrastructure package in danger of not making it through Congress.

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"A failure to pass BBB has negative growth implications," says a team of economists at Goldman Sachs. As such, "we are lowering our real gross domestic product forecast for 2022: 2% in Q1 (vs. 3% prior), 3% in Q2 (vs. 3.5% prior), and 2.75% in Q3 (vs. 3% prior)."

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Just two sectors finished in the green today – utilities (+0.09%) and consumer staples (+0.03%) – with financials (-1.9%) suffering the steepest loss. Energy was another notable decliner, slumping 1.2% as U.S. crude futures fell 3% to $68.61 per barrel.

When the closing bell mercifully sounded, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.2% at 34,932, the S&P 500 Index had given back 1.1% to 4,568 and the Nasdaq Composite was off 1.2% to 14,980.

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(Image credit: YCharts)

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 slumped 1.6% to 2,139.
  • Gold futures slipped 0.6% to settle at $1,794.60 an ounce.
  • Oracle (ORCL (opens in new tab)) slid 5.1% after the enterprise software firm said it will buy medical records company Cerner (CERN (opens in new tab), +0.8%) in an all-cash deal valued at roughly $28.3 billion in equity value. The acquisition is the biggest ever for Oracle and is expected to close in 2022. "We think that acquiring CERN would allow ORCL to gain a much larger foothold in the healthcare industry," says Jefferies analyst Brent Thill (Hold). "From a strategic perspective, CERN would bring a massive health records dataset to ORCL and allow ORCL to further expand on the apps business side, while CERN stands to benefit from ORCL's broad suite of front- and backoffice apps to help consolidate its software systems and make a deeper push into the healthcare industry."
  • Moderna (MRNA (opens in new tab)) jumped 8.9% out of the gate after the biotechnology firm said a third booster shot of its COVID-19 vaccine is effective in protecting against the omicron variant. However, the shares moved lower as the session wore on, ending the day down 6.3%.
  • Bitcoin rose 1.7% to $47,030.63. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.)

Is Tech Still a Good Bet in 2022?

Techs have taken a hit in the last week or so, but are still set to end the year as one of the best-performing sectors of 2021. At 27.3% gains year-to-date, the tech sector is running neck and neck with the financial sector (27.8%) and perched just behind energy (39.8%) and real estate (34.8%).

And looking ahead to 2022, there will be plenty of opportunities for growth in technology, says Tony DeSpirito, CIO of BlackRock's U.S. Fundamental Active Equities.

One specific area where he sees possibility is 5G technology. "Telecom companies will need to spend on upgrades and create new use cases for stimulating demand for 5G-powered technologies," he writes.

Additionally, he believes companies will continue to spend big on supporting both home and office systems in the new hybrid work environment. This is likely to benefit cloud stocks, which have benefited tremendously during the pandemic – and have a long runway of growth ahead of them.

Read on as we look at seven cloud stocks that could profit from substantial spending and growth in 2022 and beyond.

Karee Venema
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger.com

With over a decade of experience writing about the stock market, Karee Venema is an investing editor and options expert at Kiplinger.com. She joined the publication in April 2021 after 10 years of working as an investing writer and columnist at Schaeffer's Investment Research. In her previous role, Karee focused primarily on options trading, as well as technical, fundamental and sentiment analysis.