Wall Street started 2018 strong, buoyed by a growing economy and corporate profits. It isn’t ending that way.
U.S. stocks climbed to new highs early, shook off a sudden, steep drop by spring and rode a wave of tax cut-juiced corporate earnings growth to another all-time high by September. Then the jitters set in.
Investors grew worried that the testy U.S.-China trade dispute and higher interest rates would slow the economy, hurting corporate profits. A slowing U.S. housing market and forecasts of weaker global growth in 2019 stoked traders’ unease.
In October the market entered a volatile skid as traders sold technology companies and other growth sectors in favor of less-risky assets, such as government bonds.
The autumn sell-off knocked the benchmark S&P 500 index into a correction, or a drop of 10 percent from its all-time high, and on track for its worst year in a decade.
The stock market’s gyrations grew more volatile in 2018 as investors faced uncertainty over trade and rising interest rates. The benchmark S&P 500 index slid into a “correction,” or a drop of 10 percent from its high, twice this year. Bond yields surged as investors sought less risky investments, though gold weakened after rallying early in the year.
“Diversify” is one of the bedrock tenets of investing, and it’s supposed to shine brightest when markets are turbulent. The hope is that if U.S. stocks are struggling, markets in other areas of the world will be doing better. Or bonds. Or gold. This year, though, nearly everything has been a loser.
The pace of global economic growth will slow next year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said recently. Trade growth and investment have been slackening on the back of tariff hikes, the Paris-based economic think tank says. It warns world economic activity could be weaker in the years ahead if the U.S. and China impose further penalties on each other’s goods.
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