Date
22 October 2018
Investors worried about rising interest rates and braced for the impact of the trade war on corporate earnings. Photo: Reuters
Investors worried about rising interest rates and braced for the impact of the trade war on corporate earnings. Photo: Reuters

Wall Street continues slide before start of earnings season

Wall Street indices continued their slide in Thursday’s volatile session as investors worried about rising interest rates and braced for the impact of the trade war on corporate earnings a day ahead of the quarterly reporting season kickoff, Reuters reports.

In its sixth consecutive day of declines, the S&P 500 closed down 2.1 percent after shedding 3 percent in Wednesday’s session. But at its session low the benchmark fell 2.7 percent to its lowest level since early July.

The Nasdaq narrowly avoided confirming a correction. During the session it fell as much as 10.3 percent from its Aug. 29 closing record high but ended the day 9.6 percent below the record.

Investors worried that equity markets would have trouble recovering as rising interest rates coincide with uncertainty about how much earnings growth would be hurt by a US trade war with China.

“People fear that it will be harder to snap back if we’re seeing a cyclical top in earnings with those two headwinds, which are not going away,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 545.91 points, or 2.13 percent, to 25,052.83; the S&P 500 lost 57.31 points, or 2.06 percent, to close at 2,728.37; and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 92.99 points, or 1.25 percent, to 7,329.06.

After hitting an intraday high of 28.84, the CBOE Volatility Index, popularly known as the “fear gauge”, ended the day up 2 points at 24.98, its highest close since Feb. 12.

“We saw a rally this morning, and that ended up being a suckers’ rally. Then you had buy-the-dippers coming in here saying this was too much too fast,” said Dennis Dick, proprietary trader at Bright Trading Llc In Las Vegas.

“Are we out of the woods here? I don’t think so,” he said. “You’re going to see a lot of volatility in the next week or so.”

The energy sector, pressured by a drop in oil prices, was the lead decliner, while insurers were some of the biggest losers in the financial sector a day after powerful Hurricane Michael slammed into Florida.

The S&P’s 11 major sectors all ended the day in the red with only the communications services sector managing a decline of less than 1 percent.

Wall Street expects S&P 500 companies to report third-quarter earnings growth of 21.3 percent for the third quarter, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.

The technology sector, the biggest loser in Wednesday’s sell-off, closed down 1.3 percent on Thursday.

Stocks had seen some support earlier in the session from US data showing a smaller-than-anticipated rise in consumer prices as it helped ease fears of increasing inflation pressures.

The data helped push US Treasury yields to a one-week low, further soothing equity investors.

But investors still faced a sea of worries, including uncertainty ahead of US midterm congressional elections on Nov. 6, and hawkish comments last week from US Federal Reserve officials.

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CG

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