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Before The Bell - Investors come back from their Labor Day holiday to a stock market that experienced a spike in volatility at the end of last week after a summer of impressive gains. There is some apprehension that more downside is ahead in the near term.  

In the bigger picture, stocks have bounced back much more strongly—and quickly—from the bear market of late March and early April than initially imagined. Help from large, rapid policy responses on the part of the Federal Reserve and Congress has proved invaluable. 

Progress toward a coronavirus vaccine has also provided optimism, as have been the strides made toward an economic recovery following the steep fall in business conditions in the first half of 2020.

But periodic profit-taking is to be expected on Wall Street, and the market was due for a breather after an impressive run-up. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite enjoyed five straight weeks of advances prior to last week’s modest declines.

The selling began on Thursday as the red-hot tech sector experienced a long overdue pullback. On Friday, volatility remained high, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose at first, helped by a bounce from Thursday’s 808-point decline, but then fell 875 points from its best level of the day before rebounding. Bargain-hunters stepped in to buy the dip, allowing the Dow recoup most of its losses and limit the damage to a loss of 159 points. 

Elsewhere, the NASDAQ Composite closed down by 145 points and the S&P 500 gave back 28 points.

In economic news, the closely watched monthly employment report showed that the nation added 1.4 million jobs in August, while the unemployment rate fell to 8.4%. Those figures were better than expected, but the recovery in jobs was viewed as slowing, with a tougher climb ahead as the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep consumer activity from resuming fully.

This morning, the futures market indicates another sharp decline on the NASDAQ Composite, suggesting a rocky opening. Meanwhile, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average show a more moderate dip.

One problem with volatility is that, one it begins, it can take a while to run its course. Investors look to be grappling with whether or not high valuations on the biggest tech names are justified with a number of uncertainties at hand. To be sure, the market will sort itself out, but how quickly remains to be seen.  - Robert Mitkowski

At the time of this article’s writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.