Tech sector continues to weigh on the stock market; Uncle Ben’s renames its rice |

Cristopher Centers

Wall St. tumbles as tech sector takes hit NEW YORK — Wall Street racked up more losses Wednesday as stocks closed broadly lower, wiping out the market’s gains from the day before. The S&P 500 fell 2.4 percent after giving up an earlier gain. The selling, which accelerated in the […]

Wall St. tumbles as tech sector takes hit

NEW YORK — Wall Street racked up more losses Wednesday as stocks closed broadly lower, wiping out the market’s gains from the day before.

The S&P 500 fell 2.4 percent after giving up an earlier gain. The selling, which accelerated in the afternoon, was widespread, though technology stocks accounted for the biggest losses. The decline deepens the benchmark index’s September slide to 7.5 percent after a five-month rally.

The market has been whiplashed by several shifts in momentum recently.

“There have been 23 bull market corrections since World War II, and the average decline has been 14%,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA. “I basically see the same kind of decline taking place.”

At the center of the market’s big swings this month have been “Big Tech” stocks. They soared through the pandemic on expectations that their growth will only strengthen as the pandemic accelerates work-from-home and other trends that benefit them. But they began falling early this month amid fears that they had grown too expensive. Several fell sharply again Wednesday. Amazon slid 4.1 percent, Microsoft dropped 3.3 percent and Apple lost 4.2 percent.

“It’s mathematically impossible for a corrective phase in those names not to pull down the entire index,” said Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab. 

Mars renames its Uncle Ben’s brand

NEW YORK — The Uncle Ben’s rice brand is getting a new name: Ben’s Original.

Parent firm Mars Inc. unveiled the change Wednesday for the 70-year-old brand, the latest company to drop a logo criticized as a racial stereotype. Packaging with the new name will hit stores next year.

Several companies have retired racial imagery from their branding in recent months, a ripple effect from the Black Lives Matters protests over the police killing of George Floyd and other African Americans.

Quaker Oats announced in June that it would drop Aunt Jemima from syrup and pancake packages, responding to criticism that the character’s origins were based the “mammy,” a black woman content to serve her white masters. Quaker said packages without the Aunt Jemima image will start to appear in stores by the end of the year, although the company has not revealed the new logo.

The owner of Eskimo Pie has also said it will change its name and marketing of the chocolate-covered ice cream bar. Beyond food brands, the Washington NFL franchise dropped the “Redskins” name and Indian head logo amid pressure from sponsors.

In South Carolina, Geechie Boy Mill on Edisto Island that makes locally grown and milled white grits, is also planning a name change. Geechie is a dialect spoken mainly by the descendants of African-American slaves who settled on the Ogeechee river in Georgia, according to Merriam-Webster.com. “We are in the process of changing our name and have developed a whole new brand. We look forward to sharing it with the public,” owner Greg Johnsman said.

Indicted Pilgrim’s Pride CEO is out

GREELEY, Colo. — Pilgrim’s Pride has replaced its CEO as he prepares to face price fixing charges.

The company announced in June that Jayson Penn was taking a leave of absence to focus on his defense after he was indicted, and named finance chief Fabio Sandri to lead the company in the interim.

Sandri’s move to CEO was made permanent this week and Pilgrim’s Pride said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Penn is no longer with the company. Penn is one of four current and former executives indicted in June on charges of fixing prices on chickens from at least 2012 to 2017. He has pleaded not guilty.

Harassers of eBay critics to plead

BOSTON — Four former eBay Inc. employees have agreed to plead guilty to their roles in a campaign of intimidation that included sending live spiders and cockroaches to the home of a Massachusetts couple who ran an online newsletter critical of the auction site, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

“Four former employees of #eBay are scheduled to plead guilty on Oct. 8 at 2pm via zoom in federal court in #Boston,” according to a tweet from the official account of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Massachusetts. “The defendants are charged w/ participating in a cyberstalking campaign that targeted a Massachusetts couple.”

The four expected to plead guilty are Brian Gilbert, 51; Stephanie Popp, 32; Stephanie Stockwell, 26; and Veronica Zea, 26, according to The Boston Globe. All live in San Jose, Calif., except for Stockwell, who lives in Redwood City, California.

They are among seven former eBay employees charged in the case, in which the Massachusetts couple had other disturbing items sent to their home, including a funeral wreath and a bloody pig Halloween mask.

They are all charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with a witness. Their lawyers either declined to comment or didn’t immediately return emails seeking comment Wednesday.

Nike shakes off the pandemic blues

NEW YORK  — Nike appears to have recovered from its pandemic slump, posting a solid quarterly profit driven by soaring online sales of its sneakers and workout apparel.

The world’s largest sports apparel maker on Tuesday reported a net profit of $1.5 billion profit in the three-month period ending Aug. 31, up 11 percent from the same quarter last year. That was well ahead of Wall Street’s expectations.

In previous quarter that ended May 31, Nike reported an unexpected loss, with its revenue falling 38  percent after digital sales failed to make up for losses in physical stores shuttered to combat the spread of the coronavirus. But analysts had predicted a rebound because Nike has been popular with online shoppers.

In the latest quarter, Nike’s digital sales rose 82 percent, helping offset declines in its wholesale business and Nike-owned stores. Revenue in the fiscal first quarter was $10.6 billion, a 1 percent decline from a year ago. Sales in China rose 6 percent while North America sales fell 2 percent.

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