Year-End Stock Market Sell-Off a Possibility

Published on: 17 Nov, 2017

The markets exhibit a different tone now. Gone are the days when positives ruled. A day at this time could go anywhere, including north in the first half and a deep south at the end. One such day was November 14. The rally which began at the start of the day soon fizzled out and ended in a frantic sell-off. Subsequent trading sessions opened down.

The Standard & Poor is now less than only one percent from its 2016 peaks. Declines in other places have been much more noticeable. One example is the stark divergence between small capitalization Russell 2000 and S&P 500. The former is down by approximately 1.4 percent. In comparison, the S&P 500 went up by nearly 2.4 percent. This marks a divergence of four percentage point. This happened only once before in August. There was despair at that time over the tax reform prospects. This negativity pushed the Russell down by nearly six percent. Negativity was also present in JNK and HYG high yield ETFs or Exchange Traded Funds. Both declined by nearly 1.7 percent in November.

Analysts like Academy Securities' Peter Tchir have voiced a number of concerns. They point out that although tax reform has shown some progress, the reality is that it is far below everyone's expectation. The question of flatter yield curve has divided many stock market analysts. To put a crown on the cap of bad news, the arrest of prominent members of the Saudi Royal family has created uncertainty. The Saudis were arrested as part of a sudden anti-corruption drive. Tchir opined that buyers of late had become more discriminating, putting the onus on the seller.

This underperformance can be blamed on the tax reform or the lack of it. The House has pushed provisions within its tax bills restricting corporate debt deductibility. This will restrict companies' ability to issue debt. It is a fact that advances in the market are now more selective. Lowry's, a respected technical analysis specialist firm, has given the recommendation to its clients that there is a much-reduced chance of stocks hitting new peaks of 52 weeks. The chance has dropped from about 16 percent in the beginning of October to about 8.7 percent in the middle of November. The vital NYSE advance and decline continued to remain near its new highs. The same has not made much progress in the last few days due to small caps' weakness.


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Danny Abramov



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