Wall Street hits fresh year-lows on threat of government shutdown, slowing growth

By Medha Singh (Reuters) - Wall Street fell in volatile trading on Friday, after a few failed attempts at a rally, led by a drop in technology and other high-growth sectors, while defensive stocks rose amid concerns of slowing growth and a looming government shutdown.

Reuters December 22, 2018 01:05:07 IST
Wall Street hits fresh year-lows on threat of government shutdown, slowing growth

Wall Street hits fresh yearlows on threat of government shutdown slowing growth

By Medha Singh

(Reuters) - Wall Street fell in volatile trading on Friday, after a few failed attempts at a rally, led by a drop in technology and other high-growth sectors, while defensive stocks rose amid concerns of slowing growth and a looming government shutdown.

The three major indexes swung between losses and gains of more than 1 percent as fragile investor nerves were tested by news of turmoil in Washington and soothing comments from an influential Federal Reserve official.

The S&P 500, already on pace for its worst December since the Great Depression, hit its lowest since August 2017. The Dow fell to its lowest since October 2017, while the Nasdaq sank to a 15-month low, toying with bear market territory for the second day in a row.

The defensive consumer staples <.SPLRCS>, utilities <.SPLRCU> and real estate <.SPLRCR> sectors logged gains of 0.1 percent to 0.77 percent, while all the other eight S&P sectors declined.

"Investors are looking for cover. Within equities, investors are certainly gravitating towards the traditionally defensive segments of the market," said Mike Loewengart, vice-president of investment strategy at E*TRADE Financial in New York.

The technology index <.SPLRCT> sank 1.54 percent, while communication services <.SPLRCL>, which houses high-growth names such as Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc , dropped 2.2 percent.

President Donald Trump said there was a very good chance a government funding bill, which included funding for a wall along Mexico border, would not pass the Senate. Those worries were compounded by the sudden resignation of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

"I think it's a confluence of all the known issues that the investors have been digesting for the last few weeks. We have the prospect of a government shutdown today. We have more shake ups within the Trump administration," Loewengart said.

The markets got a lift earlier after New York Fed President John Williams said on CNBC the central bank is open to reassessing its views and listening to market signals that the economy could fall short of expectations.

Williams' comments come after the Fed said on Wednesday it would largely stick to its plan to keep raising interest rates, spooking investors already grappling with mounting evidence of slowing growth and triggering the slide on Wall Street.

At 1:20 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> was down 169.07 points, or 0.74 percent, at 22,690.53, the S&P 500 <.SPX> was down 24.57 points, or 1.00 percent, at 2,442.85 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> was down 127.58 points, or 1.95 percent, at 6,400.83.

Adding to the mix was "quadruple-witching," when options on stocks and indexes as well as futures on indexes and stocks expire, tending to raise volumes.

Helping stanch the bleeding on Friday was Nike Inc , which jumped 6.2 percent after the company's quarterly results beat Wall Street estimates on strength in North America. The stock was the biggest driver of gains on the Dow and S&P.

The three main Wall Street indexes are already in correction territory, having fallen more than 10 percent from their record closing highs. They are closing in on bear market territory, which is marked when an index closes more than 20 percent below its closing high.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.52-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 3.32-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. The S&P index recorded no new 52-week highs and 102 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded four new highs and 659 new lows.

(Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Oil rises 2% as OPEC complies with production cuts
Business

Oil rises 2% as OPEC complies with production cuts

By Jessica Resnick-Ault NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices strengthened on Wednesday, as OPEC and its allies were seen complying with a pact to cut oil supply in September, even as concerns loomed that recovery in fuel demand will be stalled by soaring global coronavirus cases. Early in the day crude was boosted by a bullish stock market. Even as equities whipsawed on pandemic worries, oil stayed higher, buoyed by expectations that OPEC could staunch a supply glut

Tesla's back-to-back price cuts bring sticker on U.S. Model S below $70,000
Business

Tesla's back-to-back price cuts bring sticker on U.S. Model S below $70,000

By Tina Bellon and C Nivedita (Reuters) - Tesla Inc will further cut the price of its Model S "Long Range" sedan in the United States to $69,420, the electric carmaker's chief executive, Elon Musk, announced in a tweet https://bit.ly/2H0JCP0 on Wednesday. The anticipated drop marks the second time this week Tesla has cut the price for the high-end sedan, following a 4% cut of the Model S's price in the United States on Tuesday to $71,990.

Trump cites teenaged son's bout with coronavirus in calling for schools to reopen
World

Trump cites teenaged son's bout with coronavirus in calling for schools to reopen

By Jeff Mason DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Under siege over his handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump on Wednesday cited what he said was his son's mild bout of the virus as a reason why American schools should reopen as soon as possible. Trump made the comment about his son, Barron, as the president swept into Iowa on a mission to shore up support in battleground states that he won in 2016 but is in danger of losing to Democrat Joe Biden barely three weeks before the election. First lady Melania Trump announced in a statement earlier in the day that the virus that struck both her and her husband had also infected their 14-year-old son