Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Markets fall amid signs of “cyclical top”

Markets fell on Tuesday.

The S&P 500 closed 0.6 percent lower despite trimming earlier sharp losses, its fifth consecutive decline.

The STOXX Europe 600 plunged 1.6 percent after the European Commission asked the Italian government to rework its budget.

Earlier in Asia, the Nikkei 225 plunged 2.7 percent while the Shanghai Composite sank 2.3 percent.

Caterpillar and 3M contributed to the early gloom in the US by providing disappointing earnings reports ahead of Tuesday's opening bell.

“It’s industrials like Caterpillar that struggle when you’re at a cyclical top,” said Mike O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading.

Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, noted that “almost all the news we see every day is bad”, adding that the “surprise is not that markets are reacting; it is that markets did not react sooner and that they have not reacted harder”.

Similarly, Sam Stovall, the chief investment strategist at CFRA, said that there have been problems with stocks in all of the economically sensitive sectors and that analysts have been slow to react. “They've maintained their optimistic earnings forecasts.”

Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Leuthold Group said that companies are reporting weakening sales and crimping margins. “If those are true then the numbers on 2019 earnings estimates are wrong.”

Paulsen added that if investors “suddenly see the valuation case going away, that certainly is concerning”.

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