Tech takes a beating as central banks pull back

A see-saw trading session on Wall Street Thursday as the world's leading central banks move into inflation-fighting mode.

After vacillating between pluses and minuses the Dow xxxxxx. The S&P 500 xxxx. But the Nasdaq got creamed - plunging 332 points.

One day after the Federal Reserve said it would end its massive bond-buying program in March and signaled three rate hikes by the end of next year, The European Central Bank said it would wind down its support in March as well, and the Bank of England became the first major central bank to raise borrowing costs since the health crisis began.

And so the period of ultra-easy money appears to be coming to an end, and bringing with it plenty of uncertainty, says Thomson Reuters Stocks Buzz analyst Terence Gabriel.

"The question now for the markets, though, is sort of how aggressive does that path ultimately play out? Certainly, it would seem that if it's a steady, slow increase in rates, that's something that the market's going to be a lot better able to deal with, than if it's a sudden increase that they're quite aggressive. So there's that uncertainty."

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy continues to show signs of strength. New applications for jobless benefits only rose modestly last week, while factory production jumped to its highest in nearly three years during the month of November.

In individual stock action: Lennar was down after the homebuilder's quarterly results missed expectations. High lumber costs and delayed home deliveries were the culprit. The stock was down nearly 4 percent.

AT&T headed in the other direction. The stock was upgraded at Morgan Stanley, which expects the pending spin-off of WarnerMedia to unlock shareholder value. The stock had one of its best day in roughly two years. Shares of AT&T surged nearly 7 percent.

After the close, FedEx beat quarterly sales and earnings forecasts. The express package shipper said it is taking a hit from higher labor costs but expects the earnings outlook to improve.

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