Tech stocks set to crater on Thursday with Facebook on track for biggest drop ever



By John Melloy July 25, 2018 CNBC.com

The tech-heavy Nasdaq was set for a big down day Thursday after disappointing quarterly results from Facebook sent the social media giant hurtling toward its biggest share price decline ever and on track to lose more than $125 billion in market value.

The Invesco QQQ Trust, which tracks the Nasdaq-100 index and can give traders a good idea of how the Nasdaq stocks will trade, was down more than 2 percent at one point in after hours trading Wednesday. At last count, the ETF was off by about 1.5 percent. Nasdaq futures opened lower Wednesday evening, off by about 0.8 percent. Facebook lost more than a fifth of its value after hours.

Big technology stocks other than Facebook felt the collateral damage as investors fled the sector. Apple lost about 1 percent. Facebook's 'FANG' brethren were also lower. Amazon, which reports after the bell Thursday, lost 2.3 percent. Netflix, which disappointed FANG investors with its own set of weak results earlier this earnings season, shed about 3 percent in after hours. Google-parent Alphabet fell 2.4 percent.

Facebook competitors Twitter and Snap both lost 4 percent after hours Wednesday.

Investors did not see this coming. The Nasdaq Composite Index hit a record during trading Wednesday as investors crowded back into the 'FANG' names once again. Facebook was responsible for a lot of that boost, jumping 1 percent during regular trading.

But after the bell it was a different story.

Facebook posted weaker-than-expected daily active users for last quarter and said revenue growth would decline sequentially in the second half of this year.

"The Facebook guidance debacle will be a tough pill to swallow for the bulls and weigh on FANG names as this comes on the heels of a Netflix miss as well last week," said Daniel Ives, head of technology research at GBH Insights. "Facebook’s outlook will cause worries on the Street and that could spread to other names with stock multiples coming under attack. Facebook’s nightmare guidance will spook tech investors with a near term white knuckle period ahead."

With Facebook down more than 20 percent after hours, that would far and away be its biggest drop ever. Its previous biggest drop was a 12 percent fall back in July 2012 shortly after it went public.

The broader market looked to be on sounder footing heading into Thursday. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust was off just 0.3 percent in after hours trading. Investors were likely encouraged by President Trump's comments following his meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker which hinted that a trade deal between the U.S. and European Union was possible.

— Kate Rooney contributed to this report.

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