Yesterday’s 1,175-point plummet by the Dow Jones marked the biggest single-day point loss ever; percentage-wise it was a 4.6 decline. The 30-stock index crashed below 25,000 and erased all of its 2018 gains. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index took a 113-point dive, and Monday’s dismal show capped a three-day losing streak with that index losing more than $1 trillion in market value. And not to be left out, the Nasdaq fell 273 points or about 3.8 percent.
And while the dive garnered worldwide attention, local business leaders said that yesterday’s numbers were strictly a correction and not a harbinger of bad tidings.
“It’s been 404 trading days since the S&P 500 corrected more than minus 3 percent,” said Keith McCullough, CEO of Hedgeye Risk Management in Stamford in his Early Look newsletter. “On the heels of the best January (S&P 500 +5.6 percent) since 1997, that was the longest streak going all the way back to 1928. What goes straight up, eventually comes down.”
Mike Roer, president of the Entrepreneur Foundation in Fairfield, questioned whether the markets were reacting to what he dubbed as “many conservative investors who judged this an opportune time to bank some winnings.” He noted that after a long streak of frenzied activity on Wall Street, some investors felt the increasingly hostile political climate in Washington and the new tensions over rising inflation and increasing interest rates signaled the right time cash in their chips.
“Investing is, after all, 10 percent research and thoughtful planning and 90 percent emotion,” he said.
Ray Dalio, founder of the Westport hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, commented on his LinkedIn blog that Wall Street was reacting to “justifiable fears that the Fed will tighten faster than is priced in the credit markets.” Dalio cited strong economic growth and wage increases as evidence of a vibrant economy, with the Federal Reserve working “to get monetary policy exactly right” after years of historically low interest rates.
As for Wall Street, Dalio cautioned that “these big declines are just minor corrections in the scope of things. There is a lot of cash on the side to buy on the break, and what comes next will be most important.”
Mickey Herbert, president of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, was also confident that yesterday was not a preview of things to come. “We all know we were well overdue for a market correction,” he said. “I am far from being a market prognosticator, but would urge businesses not to panic. Tax reform is incontestably good for our economy, and we simply don’t have the factors in play that disrupted the stock market so badly a decade ago. In fact, good news with a booming economy may be temporarily bad for the stock market. But ultimately, in my opinion, that booming economy will prove to be good for the stock market, and good for America.”
Brent Nyitray, director of capital markets at iServe Residential Lending in Stamford, said that “4.6 percent is a big drop in one day, but we are only 8.5 percent off the record (high) set last week.” He added that there is no one driving factor to justify the dramatic nosedive.
“The sell-off in the market wasn’t driven by anything in particular,” Nyitray said. “There were a few economic reports but nothing market-moving. The markets are adjusting to higher interest rates, and stocks will be subject to a push-pull effect of stronger earnings and growth and higher interest rates. Stocks don’t go down in a straight line and they don’t go up in a straight line either.”
Nyitray pointed to another aspect of the financial environment that could shape the bigger picture. “Don’t forget a lot of money has been hiding in the stock market because bonds haven’t paid much lately,” he said. “Now you are looking at CDs paying 1.5 percent or higher. There will be more destinations for your money now.”
Peter Gioia, vice president and economist at the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, seconded Nyitray’s observation. “Finally, it is a good time to buy,” he said. “People who go in and buy now will make their money back real quick.”
But Christopher Salem, a Danbury-based business and personal development consultant, warned that having too much confidence in Wall Street might not be the best investment route. “I don’t anticipate a major plunge as we saw in 2008,” he said. “But you should always make sure that you have a certain percentage of cash. If we learned anything after 2008, it is that you don’t want everything in stocks and bonds.”
Among the elected officials serving Fairfield County, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes was the only one to acknowledge the Wall Street drop, albeit for a serving of partisan sarcasm via Twitter.
“Am very much looking forward to @realDonaldTrump explaining how the drop in the stock market is caused by Comey, Mueller, Democrats, and black athletes who kneel during anthem,” he tweeted.