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Stock market today: Live updates

Beleaguered utilities are the sole winning sector in October

It’s been a rough 2023 for utilities, but the troubled sector is the only one in the S&P 500 that’s positive for the month.

Utilities are off nearly 16% this year, but they’ve managed to eke out a gain of 0.66% in October. The sector is also on pace for weekly gains, joined by consumer discretionary. The other nine sectors are heading for losses on the week.

Big winners in the utilities space this week include NextEra Energy, up about 8.7% in the period, and AES Corp, up 6.2%.

Utilities are beloved by income-focused investors for their dividend payments, but they have fallen on hard times as interest rates rise. This subjects companies to higher financing costs and stresses the balance sheets of companies that are already leveraged.

Darla Mercado, Nick Wells

Meta shares fall in after-hours trading, reversing earnings-fueled gains

Shares of Meta dropped 3.1% in post-market trading after the Facebook parent’s CFO Susan Li said the company is seeing softer ad spending coming into the fourth quarter.

The stock had initially jumped more than 2% on Meta’s earnings report Wednesday, which gave better-than-expected results for the third quarter as revenue increased 23%, the fastest rate of growth since 2021. The company also lowered its fourth-quarter guidance, however, expecting revenue to come out between $36.5 to $40 billion, while analysts surveyed by FactSet expected $38.84 billion.

Li said Meta has observed the softer ad spending correlating with the start of the Middle East conflict, as the Israel-Hamas war enters its third week.

“We’ve been seeing continued strong advertiser demand in key segments including online commerce and gaming but having said that, we are also seeing more volatility at the start of the quarter,” Li said. “That’s in part why we widened our guidance range to capture that uncertainty.”

The executive noted that although the company cannot attribute demand softness to any geopolitical event with certainty, Meta has historically seen broader demand softness follow other regional conflicts, such as the Russia-Ukraine war.

— Pia Singh, Stephen Desaulniers

Stock futures open lower Wednesday

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