February 8, 2018
February 8, 2018
Stocks ended sharply lower after a volatile session Thursday as strong earnings and economic data were not enough to quell jitters from higher interest rates on Wall Street.
The Dow closed 1,032 points lower, entering correction territory. This is the third drop for the Dow of greater than 500 points in the past five days. Despite the decline Thursday, the average is still a ways from its low for the week hit Tuesday of 23,778.74.
American Express and Intel were the worst-performing stocks in the index, sliding more than 5.4 percent. J.P. Morgan Chase, meanwhile, was down by more than 4 percent.
The S&P 500 pulled back 3.75 percent, reaching a new low for the week. The index also broke below its 100-day moving average and closed under 2,600, two important thresholds.
For the S&P 500, it is its third drop of greater than 2 percent in the last five days. The Nasdaq composite fell 3.9 percent as Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft all fell at least 4.5 percent.
"The market is focused on higher interest rates right now," said Kate Warne, an investment strategist at Edward Jones. "The underlying fundamentals are going to drive stocks higher, but I think the path higher will be more volatile than it's been in the past few years" as rates rise.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. note yield rose to 2.88 percent before slipping to 2.82 percent Thursday, holding around multiyear highs. The initial move higher follows the release of strong jobless claims data.
Weekly jobless claims hit a 45-year low, totaling 221,000. They fell from 230,000 in the previous week. A rise in yields Wednesday led to the Dow's posting its biggest one-day reversal since August 2015.
"The big news revolves around bond yields continuing their recent ascent," said Mark Newton, a managing member at Newton Advisors. He also said 3.05 percent is a key level to watch on the 10-year. "Getting over 3.05 percent would indeed break the 30-year downtrend and be very important to suggesting yields should begin a long-term trend higher."
The rise in yields and sharp moves in obscure volatility funds that use leverage have been cited by traders as reasons for the market's recent pullback and volatility spike.
The Dow and S&P 500 capped their worst weekly performance in two years last week after a stronger-than-expected jobs report sent interest rates higher.
The decline on Wall Street picked up steam Monday, with the Dow plummeting 1,175 points. On Tuesday, the 30-stock index swung 1,167.5 points before closing 567 points higher.
But the major indexes closed lower Wednesday, failing to hold strong gains.
Jack Ablin, a chief investment officer at Cresset Wealth Advisors, characterized this pullback as merely technical, noting, "Market valuations are expensive and need to correct. At the same time, credit conditions remain robust as the availability of money to borrow, spend and invest is strong."
"While it's impossible to predict where the markets will meander on a day-to-day basis, we are confident that any pullback that plays out over the next few weeks represents a better opportunity to buy for the long run rather than a reason to sell," Ablin said.
Overseas markets have also been under pressure recently. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index is down 10.3 percent from its 52-week high, putting it in correction territory. In Germany, the Dax index closed Thursday 9.83 percent below its 52-week high.
The major U.S. indexes tried for gains earlier in Thursday's session after the release of strong earnings data. Twitter and Grubhub reported better-than-expected quarterly results. Twitter shares soared 15 percent, while Grubhub spiked 28.7 percent.
This corporate earnings season has been strong. Of the S&P 500 companies that had reported as of Thursday morning, 78 percent had announced better-than-expected earnings, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Jeff Zipper, the managing director of investments at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, said he expects corporate earnings to be strong for the rest of the year, noting they'll get "some benefit from tax reform."