U.S. stocks on Wednesday suffered one of the deepest sell-offs of the year and Treasuries surged as mounting signs of a global economic slowdown stoked fears of an economic recession.
The S&P 500 sank almost 3% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 800 points in its worst rout of the year, sparked when the 10-year Treasury rate slid below the two-year for the first time since 2007. The 30-year yield fell to the lowest on record. Financial shares plunged 3.5% led by a 4.2% rout in Goldman Sachs Group Inc. All of the 30 Dow components retreated.
Volatility has gripped the S&P 500 since President Donald Trump rekindled the trade war at the start of August. The index has swung at least 1% intraday for 11 straight sessions and is now down 6.1% from its July record. Oil sank 3.5%, gold rallied and the dollar rose.
“With U.S.-China trade uncertainty lingering, investors are increasingly selling first and asking questions later,” said Alec Young, managing director for global markets research at FTSE Russell. “The only thing seemingly capable of reversing the volatility is credible evidence global growth is bottoming out. That seems too much to hope for right now.”
European shares lost more than 1.5% after Germany’s economy contracted in the second quarter, adding to angst fueled by weak Chinese retail and industrial numbers. The British yield curve also inverted for the first time since the financial crisis and the pound edged higher after inflation unexpectedly rose. Government bonds rallied across Europe, with the yield on benchmark bunds sliding to another record.
The warning emanating from bond markets spooked investors already seeking shelter from the fraught geopolitical climate and the impact of the global trade war just a day after equities rallied on a tariff reprieve from President Donald Trump.