The stock market recovered after an early plunge Tuesday and was little changed in morning trading, raising hopes of a halt to a global sell-off in stock markets. The swings came one day after the steepest drop in six and a half years. (Feb. 6)
NEW YORK — Stocks plunged again Thursday, extending a streak of losses that has yanked the market away from record highs. The Dow Jones industrial average slumped 1,033 points, a 4.2% decline. The tumult started last Friday as investors worried about signs of rising inflation.
The S&P 500 shed nearly 101 points, or 3.8%, to 2,581.
The Dow Jones industrial average is now at 23,860. Boeing and Caterpillar took some of the worst losses. The Nasdaq composite fell 275 points, or 3.9%, to 6,777.
The market fell steadily as the day wore on and is on track for its fifth loss in the last six days. Many of the companies that led the market’s gains over the last year have struggled badly in the last week. Those including technology companies, banks, and retailers and travel companies and homebuilders.
Stock trading turned volatile over the last several days, breaking an unusually long period of calm. European markets were also lower after the Bank of England said it could raise interest rates in the coming months.
After huge gains in the first weeks of this year, stocks tumbled Friday after the Labor Department said workers’ wages grew at a fast rate in January. That’s good for the economy, but investors worried it will hurt corporate profits and that rising wages are a sign of faster inflation. It could prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates at a faster pace, which would act as a brake on the economy.
“Far and away the most important things are the fear that the Fed is going to make a mistake, and higher wages are going to cut into margins,” said Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute. The worry, he said, is that the Fed will raise interest rates too quickly.
Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager with Globalt Investments, said he didn’t see anything specific moving the market lower today, just a continuation of a shift in investor mindset from fear of missing out in a rising market to worry of clocking big losses in a market that’s turned.
“This is going to take longer to work out than people expect,” he said. “In January we talked about fear of missing out. What we have now is what I call fear of getting caught.”
The losses were broad. Four stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange, and 10 out of the 11 industry sectors in the S&P 500 index were down.
High-dividend stocks including phone companies fell. Those stocks are often seen as substitutes for bonds because they tend not to fluctuate that much in price and provide steady income. Those stocks fall out of favor when bond yields rise, as they have been for the past few months, and many expect the trend to continue. The yield on the 10-year note was as low as 2.04 percent as recently as September.
The market didn’t get much help Thursday from company earnings reports, several of which disappointed investors. While U.S. companies mostly did well at the end of 2018, a number of them had a weak finish to the year.
Hanesbrands, which makes underwear, T-shirts and socks, reported a smaller profit than investors expected, and its forecast for the current year didn’t live up to analysts’ estimates either. The company also said it will pay $400 million to buy Australian retailer Bras N Things. The stock dropped $2.11, or 9.6 percent, to $19.85.
IRobot, which makes Roomba vacuums, plummeted 30 percent after projected a smaller annual profit than Wall Street was expecting. The stock dropped $26.75 to $61.29.
Twitter had a banner day, soaring 12 percent after turning in a profit for the first time. Its fourth-quarter revenue was also better than expected. The stock rose $3.32 to $30.23.
Online delivery company GrubHub soared after it announced a partnership with Yum Brands, the parent of Taco Bell and KFC. GrubHub will provide the delivery people and technology to let people order food from those restaurants. GrubHub jumped $17.85, or 25.5 percent, to $87.76 while Yum Brands dipped $1.94, or 2.4 percent, to $78.19.
Bond prices wobbled and turned lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.85 percent from 2.84 percent.
After a sharp loss Wednesday, benchmark U.S. crude lost 64 cents, or 1 percent, to $61.15 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard for oil prices, gave up 70 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $64.81 per barrel in London.
Wholesale gasoline remained at $1.77 a gallon. Heating oil lost 1 cent to $1.92 a gallon. Natural gas gave up 1 cent to $2.70 per 1,000 cubic feet.
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