U.S. stocks suffered an unusually brutal decline Wednesday, as investors worry about interest rates rising from historical lows.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -3.15% was down 832 points, or 3.2%, to 25,598.74, while the S&P 500 SPX, -3.29% fell 3.3%. The Nasdaq Composite Index had its worst session in two years, declining 4.1%, as internet stocks tumbled in the wake of a mixed earnings preview from Barclays.
Meanwhile, the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.30% was unchanged at 3.19%, but that’s up from 2.94% a month ago and 2.40% at the end of 2017.
An important theme driving the bull market that began in March 2009 has been “a world awash with cash.” The Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan added so much liquidity with their historically low interest rates and bond purchases that it was logical to expect a tremendous flow of money into U.S. stocks. But the Fed has raised its target federal funds rate three times this year, and it is reasonable to expect additional upward moves for long-term interest rates. And that typically spells at least short-term jitters for stocks.
On the other hand, too much pessimism could create opportunities for short-term investors.
Michael Cuggino, president and portfolio manager of the Permanent Portfolio Family of Funds, called Wednesday’s selloff “a delayed reaction to a couple of events over the past couple of weeks.”
“The Fed’s recent comments have indicated that they believe the economy is strong, and therefore they expect their tightening moves to continue,” he said. “Secondly, you had a tough speech given by Vice President Pence on where the U.S. stands with China. This was a statement about the U.S. firming its position, and there has been some indication that China is responding. So it potentially elongates