Monday September 20th


Market sell-off accelerates before the open with Dow futures dropping 650 points

U.S. stock index futures began the week deeply in the red as investors continued to move to the sidelines in September amid several emerging risks for the market. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial average lost 650 points, or 1.9%. S&P 500 futures fell 1.7%. Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 1.7%. If the declines hold after the open, the blue-chip Dow is set for its biggest one day drop since July 19, while the S&P 500 is poised for their worst sell-off since May. There were a number of reasons for the sell-off: Investors fear a contagion sweeping financial markets from the troubled China property market. Hong Kong equities saw a big sell-off during the Asia trading session on Monday. The benchmark Hang Seng index plunged 4% with embattled developer China Evergrande Group on the brink of default.

The Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting Tuesday and investors are worried the central bank will signal it’s ready to start pulling away monetary stimulus amid surging inflation and improvement in the job market.
Covid cases because of the delta variant remain at January levels as colder weather approaches in North America.
September has the worst track record of any month, averaging a 0.4% decline, according to the Stock Trader’s Almanac. History shows the selling tends to pick up in the back half of the month.
Investors are also concerned about brinkmanship in DC as the deadline to raise the debt ceiling approaches. Congress returned to Washington from recess rushing to pass funding bills to avoid a government shutdown.

Stocks linked to global growth were down the most in premarket trading Monday. Ford and Carrier Global lost more than 3%. General Motors and Boeing fell about 2% each. Nucor steel shed 2.8% Energy stocks tumbled as WTI crude oil fell 2% on concerns about the global economy. Occidental Petroleum, Hess and Devon Energy were among the biggest losers in premarket trading. Bond prices gained as investors sought safety. The move pushed the 10-year Treasury yield down by 4 basis points to 1.329%. Big bank stocks took a hit as the falling rates may crimp profits. Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase were each down more than 2% in premarket trading. “We think the mid-cycle transition will end with the rolling correction finally hitting the S&P 500,” wrote Mike Wilson, Morgan Stanley’s chief U.S. equity strategist. “We point to downside risk to earnings revisions, consumer confidence and PMIs.” Wilson said he believes a “destructive outcome” is looking more likely that results in a pullback of 20% or more. On Friday, University of Michigan’s September consumer sentiment index came in at 71, just slightly above the August level that was the lowest in 9 years. The Cboe Volatility index, Wall Street’s fear gauge, jumped above the 26 level on Monday, the highest since May. Stocks have struggled so far in September in line with historical trends. For the month , the Dow is off 2.2%. The S&P 500 is lower by about 2% and the Nasdaq Composite is lower by 1.4%. Friday the Dow Jones Industrial Average turned in three straight weeks of losses for the first time since September 2020. The S&P 500 saw its biggest trading volume Friday since July 19, more than doubling its 30-day average volume. Friday coincided with the expiration of stock options, index options, stock futures and index futures — a quarterly event known as “quadruple witching.” History shows volatility tends to pick up around this event. Fed Chair Jerome Powell will hold a press conference Wednesday at the conclusion of the two-day meeting. Powell has said the so-called tapering could occur this year, but investors are waiting for more specifics, particularly after mixed economic data released since Powell’s last comments. Some investors believe this is just normal market action that can occur in September. “The reasons for drop this morning are the same as last week: China concerns (Evergrande, regulation, COVID), Fed tapering and possible tax hikes, but nothing new occurred this weekend to justify this mornings’ declines,” Tom Essaye, founder of Sevens Report, said in a note. Other risky assets declined on Monday. Bitcoin lost 10% to below $43,000. Most commodities were in the red. Gold was among the few assets in the green, adding 0.5% to $1,760. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index led losses among Asia-Pacific markets in Monday trade, with shares of embattled Chinese developer China Evergrande Group continuing to drop. The Hang Seng index dropped 3.3% to close at 23,099.14. Shares of China Evergrande Group in the city plummeted 10.24%, after falling as much as 17% earlier. The Hang Seng Properties index dropped to a 52-week low, falling 6.69% on the day. Markets in mainland China, Japan and South Korea were closed on Monday for holidays. Oil dropped more than $1 a barrel to around $74 on Monday as rising risk aversion weighed on stock markets and boosted the U.S. dollar, while more U.S. Gulf oil output came back online in the wake of two hurricanes. The U.S. dollar, seen as a safe haven, rose as worries about Chinese property developer Evergrande’s solvency spooked equity markets and investors braced for the Federal Reserve to take another step towards tapering this week. “Far East stock markets and the strong dollar are affecting oil,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM. “Nonetheless, unless all hell breaks loose, the positive sentiment ought to prevail.” Brent crude fell $1.37, or 1.8%, to $73.97 a barrel at 1145 GMT, having dropped as low as $73.75 earlier in the session. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) declined $1.60, or 2.2%, to $70.37. Gold prices were pressured on Monday, hurt by a stronger dollar and concerns the U.S. Federal Reserve might hint at when it intends to begin tapering its asset purchases in its upcoming meeting. Spot gold was little changed at $1,755.84 per ounce, having earlier touched its lowest level since Aug. 12 at $1,741.86. U.S. gold futures rose 0.2% to $1,755.00.