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Facebook shares plummeted Monday, breaking below a key psychological and technical level, and now it faces a bigger test.
The stock fell hard after weekend reports that a political data analytics firm gained access to data on 50 million Facebook users. Analysts said the stock was holding above the lows of its recent trading range but it is testing the 200-day moving average.
Facebook closed at $172.56, just about at the 200-day level of $172.50, after trading below it as low as $170.06. The next level technicians were watching was the recent low of $167.
The 200-day is a widely watched technical indicator, used to follow price trends. It simply represents the average closing price over the past 200 trading days. The stock last closed below the 200-day in January 2017.
"It is gapping down. That's never a good sign for a big growth stock," said Robert Sluymer, technical analyst at Fundstrat. "It's key to see how it reacts to its 200-day and the lows that were in place. ... It's premature to make a statement that there's a top in Facebook. It's just really returning to the low end of a support band it's been in since October."
Sluymer said he's watching the upper $160s range, and if it breaks that it could fall back toward $155. He said the 200-day was important but he's more concerned about the recent lows.
Sluymer said the stock has visited the high $160s a number of times — in October, November and in February, when it hit a low of $167 as the market sold off. If it fails to hold that low end of the range, it risks breaking its uptrend, he said.
Scott Redler, partner with T3Live.com, said Facebook stock had actually looked like a buy to him last week, rising above its shorter-term moving averages — the 8-day, 21-day and 50-day. He said he bought it Friday on strength but sold it in early trading Monday after the weekend news.
"Bigger institutions are probably watching to see how it handles the 200-day, which it's been above and held for the last year or so. There's been a lot of momentum damage but not macro damage to the chart," he said.
"Right now, it's kicked out the momentum players," said Redler, who watches the market's short-term technicals. "Facebook started the year in the penalty box. Most traders were probably trying to stay away from it. Last week, while tech was on the weaker side, it closed well and above the moving averages, making it look like the chart rebuilt. Today was a big surprise."
Redler said he was watching $167 to $169 as an area of support, going back to July. He said broader tech was sending warnings of a sell-off last week. He said the PowerShares QQQ Trust ETF had an outside day on Tuesday, falling below the prior day's lows, and never regained strength. The QQQ represents the Nasdaq 100.