|Day's Range||1,035.39 - 1,082.90|
|52 Week Range||966.22 - 1,715.08|
Since the Feb. 19 bull market high, the tiniest stocks have lost 37.0%, versus a 22.2% loss for the largest stocks. As of Feb. 29, according to Russell Indexes, the median market cap of the stocks in the tiny cohort was just $204 million, compared to $183.5 billion for the largest one. Lagging the biggest stocks by almost 15 percentage points over a six-week period is hardly an everyday occurrence for the smallest socks.
The stock market climbed in afternoon trading Thursday, preserving moderate gains for the major indexes. But small caps lagged noticeably.
Volatile trading continues this week as stocks consolidate from their recent upswing, but whether the recent move upward was merely a dead cat bounce after the worst 1Q ever remains to be seen.Yesterday's -4.1% decline in the S&P 500 futures contract likely did little to ease investors' fears. The /ES has stalled near the 21-day EMA for much of the last week. A close above this level, currently near 2596, as well as above further resistance at the yearly 50% Linear Regression Channel lower line near 2633, could provide some impetus for a continued bullish move.Russell 2000 futures were the weakest of the four major U.S. indices yesterday, notching a -5.7% slump before closing near 1070. The small-caps have been the most troubled of the major indices, as they led to the downside before the crash and have logged a 35% decline year-to-date. Is the /RTY once again providing a clue about the overall market direction?Watch for resistance near the confluence of the previous highs and the 21-day EMA around 1180 to the upside, and for support near 1000 to the downside.Get expert insights from market participants and seasoned traders during this time of historic market volatility at TD Ameritrade Network's Town Hall this Saturday, April 4th starting at 10 a.m. ET.See more from Benzinga * Wednesday's Market Minute: If Stocks Survive The Week * Monday's Market Minute: Crude Oil Crushed * Friday's Market Minute: Lack Of Forward Guidance(C) 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
A brutal, punishing initial weekly unemployment claims jump to 6.6 million last week sets the stage for Thursday's trading. That's double what analysts had been expecting, and topped even some of the highest estimates on Wall Street.For the workforce, it's a devastating sign of the pain this crisis is putting on employees, businesses and the U.S. economy. It's the second record-breaking week in a row, with the old high mark for weekly initial claims before this year being well below a million. The question is whether this is a temporary spike or if it can last week after week. Some analysts suggest next week's report might be more important, because it can help answer that question. If they're right, then what we're seeing now is simply a shock to the system, a surge that might fade quickly.The number is ugly, there's no getting around it. Stock futures were up before it came out but quickly surrendered their gains following the news. Strength in the oil market had been underpinning a rally in stock index futures prior to the claims news.Volatility Check Claims aside, volatility is headed down this morning. The heavy volatility is probably going to continue. These are huge ranges the market's been trading in and that doesn't end right away, but what many investors probably want to see is more of what we've been seeing: Staying within 100 points on the S&P 500 Index (SPX).That sounds crazy, because before this started, 100 points was considered a wild swing. What's important, though, is seeing the ranges narrow day-by-day, week-by-week so that the market gets back in a position where you can point to support and resistance levels and start seeing more predictable patterns develop.Crude shot up 10% early Thursday after President Trump said he wants to talk to the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Russia about how to stabilize the market. Also, China said it's going to start buying crude at cheap prices for its strategic reserves. This could be good from the short-term perspective of giving crude prices a lift, but also longer-term because it suggests China sees its economy recovering and more need for energy down the road. Walgreens Boots Alliance (NYSE: WBA) shares rose in pre-market trading after the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($DJI) component beat analysts' estimates with its earnings results. However, in what could be a sign of more things to come, the company said it can't predict the impact of coronavirus and is holding off guidance until next quarter.Maybe that's something to expect from a lot of companies once earnings season gets underway, but that could be disappointing to many investors who'd hoped executives could provide at least some kind of outlook on what might be ahead. The problem is, nobody knows how long this situation lasts, so you can't fault companies for wanting to wait and see. Tough Comparisons How bad of a start has the year gotten off to? Well, it's the first time since 2008 that a year began with three negative months for the SPX noted Sam Stovall, of research firm CFRA. The most recent year before that to begin with an unfortunate "three-peat" was 1982, and it's only happened seven times since World War II. The average full-year price return for years like that was -14.8%, though past performance doesn't necessarily tell us about the future. From a sector perspective, the first three months of 2020 offer investors a good lesson about not putting all your eggs in one basket. Losses since Dec. 31 are as low as 12.2% for Information Technology and 13.1% for Health Care to as bad as 51.1% for Energy and 32.3% for Financials. Other sectors down less than 20% so far this year include Consumer Staples, Utilities, Communication Services, Real Estate, and Consumer Discretionary.The SPX, factoring in Wednesday's plunge, is down almost 24% year-to-date, which is bad enough. The Russell 2000 Index (RUT) of small caps has really taken it on the chin, though, with a year-to-date loss of almost 36%. More below on why the RUT may be getting hit hardest.It's getting harder to believe there could be a "V-shaped" recovery for markets and the economy, by the way. Even if this crisis ended tomorrow, people wouldn't necessarily be hopping onto cruise ships or airplanes immediately. Business meetings wouldn't go right out of conference rooms and into convention centers. It's difficult to believe things could get back to normal right away when the situation is over, because there would still probably be concern about reigniting the virus or being in close quarters with lots of people. Another challenge to any prolonged rally is the way the Financial sector has been beaten down. It's one of the worst-performing sectors this year, dealing with a one-two punch of low rates and a business slowdown. Without that sector recovering, it will be hard to have a "V-shaped" scenario. The old saying is it's hard to rally without Financials participating, because they're really at the center of so much business activity. Yesterday we mentioned The Kroger Company (NYSE: KR) and The Clorox Company (NYSE: CLX) as potential contrary indicators, meaning if their stocks do well it might suggest more fear around Wall Street. It's not really too surprising, then, that both stocks continued to gain Wednesday as the broader market lost ground. There's nothing wrong with those two companies, but if you're a bull you'd probably be happier seeing big gains for the more cyclical stocks in sectors like Information Technology and Consumer Discretionary. That's where investors tend to put their money when they're feeling confident. Bonds also rose rapidly the last two days, wiping out some recent yield gains. That's another signal investors might want to follow, because buying bonds tends to indicate a more cautious mindset. The 10-year yield fell back under 0.6% at times Wednesday, which likely helped weigh down the Financial sector. It did scratch and claw back above 0.6% by day's end. A Look Back at Wednesday--For Those with Strong Stomachs Looking back at yesterday, things were ugly, but some positive signs are out there like little green buds on the trees. First, there was no dive to limit losses for the SPX, the way we saw a couple of weeks ago.Meanwhile, crude recovered throughout the day and stayed above $20 a barrel. The 10-year Treasury yield managed to find a little life after falling below 0.6% early on.All that said, uncertainty remains sky-high, and when investors don't know what's next the first reaction is often to sell stocks and buy what they see as risk protection in fixed income and volatility. A lot of investors want to know if major indices are going to retest the lows. No one knows, but the fact that VIX is staying down near more normalized levels (relatively, anyway) could hint that this down-move is maturing. Investors seem to be absorbing bad news with less fear and not reacting like before. Things could turn more negative, but the way the market is reacting to new data could be a stronger argument that recent lows might hold. CHART OF THE DAY: QUARTER PLUS ONE: This chart covering Jan. 1 through April 1 shows the performance of three major indices: The S&P 500 Index (SPX--candlestick), the Russell 2000 Index (purple line-RUT), and the Nasdaq (blue line--COMP). It's quite evident that the technology-heavy COMP has been an outperformer while the RUT--made up of smaller companies and heavily weighted toward regional banks--has suffered most. Data Sources: FTSE Russell, Nasdaq, S&P Dow Jones Indices. Chart source: The thinkorswim® platform from TD Ameritrade. For illustrative purposes only. Past performance does not guarantee future results.How to Determine Value Here? It's Complicated: One confusing challenge that's likely added to recent wild market swings has been finding a way to value stocks as earnings suddenly stand on shaky ground. That makes it hard to put a number on 2020 earnings per share (EPS) for the S&P 500, but many analysts now seem to think no growth from a year ago or even a steep decline in earnings could be likely. Originally, the average estimate had been for mid- to upper-single digits 2020 growth in EPS. If EPS is ultimately seen falling sharply from 2019, there could be more room lower in the SPX from a valuation standpoint.Dueling P/E Ratios: If you want to stress the positive, you could note that at the current SPX level, and assuming unchanged 12-month forward EPS year-over-year in 2020, the SPX has a price-to-earnings (P/E) of around 15. That's near historic averages and down from nearly a 20 P/E at recent all-time highs, which many analysts thought looked pricey at the time. However, the less rosy projections could signal more pain for the market if they end up becoming reality. If you plug in the lowest Wall Street forward earnings per share estimates for 2020--which see 35% declines from a year ago--the current SPX P/E ratio would be well above where it was two months ago. So a lot depends on the crisis not lasting long enough to punish earnings more than they've already been, and for a recovery to shape up starting in Q3.The timing of the presumed recovery isn't possible to estimate right now because that's up to the virus and science. However, one analyst speaking on CNBC yesterday said earnings season will possibly provide some hints. Investors are likely to discount companies' January and February numbers because that was before the virus hit the economy. If companies provide a monthly breakdown, however, and detail their March performance specifically, it might allow analysts to get a handle on how bad things have gotten under virus conditions. That in turn could give them more clarity on how earnings might proceed in Q2 if the current economic regime continues.Corporate Bond Desk: It's important to monitor how long and severe the downturn ends up being, because that will potentially affect the number of defaults in the corporate bond space. If defaults start to mount, that could make the recovery a bit more of an uphill fight. A number of ratings agencies are starting to put out warnings about bond issues, so consider keeping an eye on that. If defaults pick up steam, one sector that could suffer is Financials. Specifically, regional banks might be at the most risk. Yesterday's steep losses in the Russell 2000 Index (RUT) of small-caps could be one indication of how badly small businesses are suffering in this crisis, and that's particularly worrisome for regional banks (which make up a decent percentage of the RUT). If smaller banks and non-bank lenders stop lending, it's possible it could start bleeding into the bigger banks and the bigger indices as people really start getting hurt in terms of paying their bills.See more from Benzinga * Another Wild Wednesday: New Quarter, Same Old Sell-Off As Fears Of Crisis Intensify * Some Staples Stocks Bouncing Back After Sliding In Recent Rally As Caution Tightens Grip * The Prize No One Wanted: Dow On Pace For Steepest Q1 Loss Ever As Quarter Finally Ends(C) 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
Stocks finish Wednesday trade deeply in negative territory, with the three main indexes registering declines of at least 4% and a gauge of small-capitalization stocks tumbling 7% to start April and a new quarter.
Stocks kicked off April with steep losses on Tuesday, falling as investors braced for an onslaught of negative news around the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished around 974 points lower, down 4.4%, near 20,943, according to preliminary figures, while the S&P 500 shed around 114 points, or 4.4%, closing near 2,471. The Nasdaq Composite ended near 7,361, off around 340 points, or 4.4%. Stocks fell sharply in late February and March before recouping some of the decline, with the S&P 500 logging a 20% quarterly decline, its largest since 2008, and the Dow falling more than 23% for its biggest first-quarter decline on record and largest quarterly fall since 1987. Small-cap stocks have also suffered, with the Russell 2000 Index falling harder than the other indexes Wednesday with a drop of more than 7%.
If you'd told someone two months ago that by April 1 crude would be barely hanging on to $20 a barrel and economists would be forecasting possible 15% unemployment, you'd probably have thought it was a bad April Fool's joke in advance.Unfortunately, it's no joke, and April Fool's Day and the new quarter dawns with plenty of misery despite the major indices rising four of the last six days. Yesterday's late washout spilled into overnight futures trading as investors contemplated what President Trump has said will be a "very, very painful two weeks." If the crisis hadn't sunk in yet for investors, it probably is now after the market posted its worst Q1 ever.Q2 is starting us off with a lot of the same punches we saw in Q1. People are trying to figure out what it all means, and when they don't know, the first reaction is often to sell.The good news is that things didn't go limit-down overnight the way they did a couple weeks ago. It wasn't a good night, but the big moves aren't as violent and the market is coming back a little toward some possible ranges. It hasn't set a range yet, but it's down 3.5%, not 5%. That's the solace. It's a tough time, but there's solace that we're possibly starting to get back toward setting some ranges.Sorting Through the Numbers There's a hefty dose of data on the way today, including car and truck sales, ISM manufacturing, and construction spending. Of these, you probably want to give ISM the closest look. It was trending kind of weak even before the crisis hit.In other manufacturing data, good news came out of China earlier today as the Caixin manufacturing PMI climbed 9.8 points to 50.1 in March. That was better than many analysts had expected, but remember this isn't hard data. It's a sentiment measure that gauges how manufacturers see conditions vs. February. Still, it's good to see sentiment improve in China and could be another sign of the country recovering from the virus.Still, Asian and European stocks fell sharply earlier today. Japan's Nikkei was down almost 5%. Over in Europe, some banks said they won't pay dividends because they want to keep cash on hand as the economy hits the brakes. There's tough stuff everywhere today. There's definitely some buying interest in bonds this morning, which could be a sign of more investor caution. The 10-year yield lost its grip on the 0.7% handle this morning and plunged all the way back to just above 0.6%. Cboe Volatility Index futures (/VX) are flirting with 60. Gold is up, but pared some of its overnight gains. Crude managed to hold the $20 a barrel line.One possible reason for the heavy losses early Wednesday could be the quarter ending and "window dressing" being finished. That's a term for position-squaring many fund managers do at the end of a quarter, and it might have contributed to some of the rebound we saw over the last week. Now the window dressing is being removed, so to speak.Counting Your Blessings From a market perspective, at least, things could be far worse. The roughly 24% loss in the S&P 500 Index (SPX) from February's peaks isn't nearly as bad as the one experienced during the 2008 financial crisis. Although there's no guarantee the major indices won't re-test earlier lows or even get worse, it does look like for now, at least, the markets are trading in less wide of a range. Volatility started to step back yesterday, too. Another positive element lately is some retail investors were apparently stepping back into the market. Though people aren't typically going "all in"-- seldom a good idea even in the best of times--it does seem like many investors are getting comfortable with some of the levels the major indices are at now.There's been a really nice bounce from recent lows, and some consolidation appears to be happening after a couple of really wild weeks. Some people apparently saw the downturn as a buying opportunity, but they didn't spend everything in one place. It looks like many have cash on the sidelines looking for more opportunity if it comes, which could indicate a "buy the dip" mentality possibly shaping up. We'll have to wait and see if that happens today as the market looks set to swing sharply lower. It will be interesting to see as we go through the day if people start buying a bit. The dollar continues to fade from nearly three-year highs reached earlier in March when investors appeared to be rushing to cash. If the dollar continues to fall, that could be another good sign that more people are putting their money in places besides under the mattress. On the other hand, Treasury yields remain historically low and don't seem to be getting much of a bounce. Another good thing specifically about entering a new quarter is that companies start to report, which could provide a much cleaner lens into the potential impact of the crisis. We've all been fumbling through the dark trying to find the light switch. Companies won't necessarily be ready to shine an arc lamp on the situation yet, but anything they can share has to be better than this confusion.No one knows how long this national shutdown might last or how bad unemployment might get, though Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) sees unemployment hitting 15% by mid-year.Obviously, the length of this crisis is a huge unknown. One thing investors might want to follow is a site maintained by The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which at this point predicts U.S. deaths from the virus to peak around April 14 and slowly decline from there. The IHME says its projections "assume the continuation of strong social distancing measures and other protective measures."It's positive to see some signs of "curve bending" in a few places around the U.S., according to media reports. However, it wasn't enough to rescue stocks late Tuesday or early today.Same Difference The old quarter ended in familiar territory, with steep losses. After a week of mostly stronger trading, major indices saw their early rally flag and then fade pretty badly into the close. End-of-quarter rebalancing might have contributed to the huge 4% plunge in Utilities stocks and a surprising jump in the Energy sector despite crude staying below $21 a barrel, Briefing.com observed.Selling yesterday was heaviest in the Russell 2000 Index (RUT) of small-caps, continuing the trend of small-caps trailing larger companies. This could indicate investors honing in on large growth companies seen as having the biggest balance sheets and strongest free-cash flow to help them through this crisis. Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) were among the behemoths that outperformed the broader SPX on Tuesday.For the SPX, if things get rough enough, the old December 2018 low of 2350 could come into play as potential technical support point. Technical support hasn't been holding up, however, through most of this crisis.Yesterday, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index for March dropped to 120.0 from an upwardly revised 132.6 for February. The March reading was the lowest since July 2017. The silver lining? Analysts had thought it would be even lower. CHART OF THE DAY: WHEN A TREND REVERSES. Last week's jobless claims report showed initial claims of 3.28 million--a new record, and also an immediate unwinding of several years of job growth. Analyst consensus ahead of tomorrow's report is for another 3 million new claims. These two data points are important to keep in mind ahead of Friday's payrolls data release. Data source: Federal Reserve's FRED database. Chart source: The thinkorswim® platform from TD Ameritrade. FRED® is a registered trademark of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis does not sponsor or endorse and is not affiliated with TD Ameritrade. For illustrative purposes only. Past performance does not guarantee future results. What's on Tap? Many people are stocking up on painkillers, toilet paper, and hand wipes. Others, though, are taking their own approach to the pandemic. For instance, sales of alcohol have enjoyed a spirited bounce, many Wall Street analysts note. Another sector apparently enjoying a boost is video games, as Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI) shares rose again Tuesday, and shares of Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ: NVDA)--a company whose products serve the video game industry--falling just a touch Tuesday and up 34% from its mid-March low. What else are young people going to do when they're stranded at home for weeks with their parents? Well, besides video games, there is Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX), which no one needs to be reminded has been one of the best recent performers. Another winner? Good old-fashioned orange juice. Egg and butter futures might not get traded much these days, but orange juice futures aren't getting squeezed. They were up 25% from their lows recently as more people try to get their daily dose of Vitamin C, despite some doctors saying there's little proof it protects against the virus. Then again, try to find a doctor who says beer or scotch helps fight off the microscopic menace, but that hasn't stopped those items from flying off the shelves. A Bear of a Different Color: You don't have to look far to find analysts who say we're not over the hump yet and another test of the lows could be ahead. Many point to past bear markets where lows got retested over and over. That's what happened in 2008-2009, for instance. There were a bunch of decent bounces between the first sharp declines in September 2008 and the final 12-year low set in early March 2009. Lots of head fakes, when you look back at the charts from then. Hindsight is 20-20.One argument against comparing this bear market to past ones is that this one really came out of the blue and involves something unrelated to the financial system itself. You can't blame this situation on the banks or the "dot-coms," like the last two. It doesn't reflect some sort of breakdown in any one sector that's dragging everything else down. It's a brutal and sudden body blow to the entire market from the same outside event, more like a Sept. 11 kind of attack (though that came in an economy that was already slowing). Goldman Sachs said yesterday it expects gross domestic product to decline more than 30% in Q2. But it also said it expects things to bounce right back with 19% growth in Q3. Because it's a singular problem and hopefully has a solution, this time might not be like last time as far as the bear market is concerned. What Do You See, Dr. Watson? Anyone seeking clues on investor sentiment at this time of crisis might consider monitoring companies investors embraced when the virus first sank its talons into the economy about a month ago. Two of these are The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) and The Clorox Comapny (NYSE: CLX), shares of which raced ahead in early March as many Americans made emergency purchases based on supply shortage fears. After their initial rallies, both KR and CLX declined pretty sharply from about March 17 through March 25 as the SPX began a rebound and public acceptance of a long downturn appeared to grow. However, the two stocks both gained ground over the last week, so maybe people are getting anxious again. What's interesting is how the slight bounce in these two Consumer Staples stocks was accompanied by recent strength in the ultra-cyclical sector Information Technology. Buying in that sector is often seen as a sign of investor confidence in the economy. Stay tuned for the next dramatic chapter in this mystery.See more from Benzinga * The Prize No One Wanted: Dow On Pace For Steepest Q1 Loss Ever As Quarter Finally Ends * Johnson & Johnson Gets Boost After Announcing September Trials Of Vaccine Planned * April Markets: Curtain Raising On Earnings, But Guidance May Take Center Stage(C) 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
Large-cap stocks have recovered much lost value during the past week, but other assets, including small-caps, have not followed suit.
In the past two weeks, Google searches for “buy stocks” have spiked as much as 10 times the average week in recent months. But last week’s survey of investors showed 52% of respondents identifying as bearish.
No one likes a flat beer or soda, but a flat open for the major indices? The way things have gone the last month, most investors would probably take it.If you're looking for hints that things might be slowing down a bit from this nearly unprecedented volatility, check out the overnight action in futures. Major indices fell around 2% right at the open Sunday night, but then clawed all the way back to unchanged a couple hours before the opening bell. After that, they actually started turning green, and now it looks like things could be positive in the early going. We'll see where things close, but just being near unchanged is a positive. A few weeks ago, it's arguable news like Sunday's announcement from President Trump extending social distancing through April 30 might have weighed on stocks. Now, investors might be entering the "acceptance" phase of the crisis. People know this is going to go on a while and accept what doctors say about how things could get a little worse, but they seem to feel reassured by the Fed and Congress taking quick action to give the economy a security blanket.It's positive people aren't clinging to every piece of bad news. Also, investors might be cheering the fact that all levels of government seem to be getting on the same page--which arguably could be key to defeating this. It was hard for investors to hear different messaging from different authorities about time framing.News that Johnson & Johnson (nyse: JNJ) plans to start human testing of a coronavirus vaccine by September also appeared to inject some early optimism. Shares of JNJ jumped 4% in pre-market trading.Another hint that maybe we're starting to leave some of the unprecedented volatility behind is the last 10 days of S&P 500 Index (SPX) performance. It fell more than 3% last Friday after a three-day rally. However, it hasn't fallen more than 4% in a session in over a week, and it's now been two weeks since that epic March 16 plunge of more than 12%, the worst day since 1987. The SPX has risen five of the last 10 sessions.Caution Flags Still Waving That's not to say more sharp losses or even a test of recent lows can't happen. Many analysts say it's possible. So is more volatility, as the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX) doesn't show signs of any retreat. Also, there's some definite buying going on with interest rate products. The 10-year Treasury yield is down below 0.7%, so that bears watching. For now, though, investors probably welcome any sign of the stairs getting less steep both going up and down. As we've said, it would be good to see the major indices find trading ranges so the market starts to act more like it typically does, with clear support and resistance. It's hard to say if we're there yet or what it would take to get there, but last night's action was fairly positive on that front.The other interesting thing this morning is crude, which fell as low as $19.92 a barrel overnight. There isn't demand at the moment, let's be honest. Airlines are flying limited schedules, people aren't commuting, and schools are closed. The demand part of the oil equation is way, way down on the scale.Can Market Stay Resilient in Face of March Data? Whatever happens with the virus, it's almost certainly too late to save the data from last month. It might be interesting to see how the market reacts, especially after it basically discounted last Thursday's historically bad initial claims number, which came in at 3.28 million.Data points are backward looking and stocks tend to look forward, but it might be hard for investors to look past what are probably going to be some very unpleasant statistics in coming weeks.The monthly payrolls report this coming Friday looms large after February's report showed 273,000 jobs created. A number like that is probably going to be hard to envision for a long time moving forward as the economy takes a trip to the proverbial woodshed. Last week's initial unemployment claims were potentially just the start.Analysts expect job losses of 150,000 last month, according to Briefing.com. That will likely end a long streak of positive jobs growth. This week also brings consumer confidence data and the ISM manufacturing index, which was a little soft even late last year long before anyone had heard of the virus.The other number likely to be on peoples' minds this week is the virus caseload. Most Americans have been "sheltering in place" for nearly two weeks now. No one knows when the curve might start to flatten, so to speak. Friday Skid Came Back to Haunt Again The Friday feature included another disappointing finish, kind of like a lot of Fridays lately. It was especially frustrating to see so much late selling after major indices gained ground an hour before the close. Still, it wasn't too surprising when you consider how nervous many people felt about going long into the weekend.Last week as a whole, though, could have been a lot worse. While the SPX couldn't hold psychological support at 2550, it still ended 16.5% above Monday's three-year low. Not a completely happy ending, when you get right down to it, but not something that would necessarily frighten the kids too much.It's a relief to see Congress pass and the president sign stimulus legislation last week. They basically threw everything at this crisis, and acted with historic speed. The question is how long it will help. A month from now, will Congress need to do more? We'll have to wait and see, and hope things get better.Remember the Human Aspect Behind the raw numbers, let's not forget, there's some real human suffering. Especially for service workers who typically don't make a lot to begin with and who can't do their jobs when restaurants, bars, and even airports are closed or nearly empty. Some airlines carried less than 25% of their normal passenger load last week, so think about what that means to the people you buy coffee from at the airport and the ones who serve more coffee on your flight. This has been devastating for many low earners, and that's likely to start showing up in the leisure and hospitality segment of the payrolls report, especially.All this makes it harder to say we'll see a quick "v-shaped" recovery in the stock market or the economy once this ends, according to some analysts. For example, even when people are allowed to go back to work, how many will feel comfortable getting on a crowded commuter train where someone's coughing? Consumer sentiment hit the skids in March, according to the University of Michigan. The headline number of 89.1 was down from 101 in February, the fourth-largest one-month decline in the last 50 years. CHART OF THE DAY: CAN WE INVERT THIS? The one-month chart above shows the Russell 2000 Index (RUT--candlestick) of small-caps trailing both the Dow Jones Transportation Average ($DJT--purple line) and the S&P 500 Index (SPX--blue line). In a better world, the RUT and the $DJT would be catching up to and surpassing the performance of the SPX, because both are often seen as barometers for domestic economic activity. Let's check back in a week or two and see if there's any progress. Data Sources: FTSE RUT, S&P Dow Jones Indices. Image source: The thinkorswim® platform from TD Ameritrade. For illustrative purposes only. Past performance does not guarantee future results.Just in Case: One thing most investors probably don't miss lately is sharp losses triggering circuit breakers that halt trading. This happens when the SPX falls 7% in a session, as we saw several times earlier this month. While stocks regained a little footing the last few days, volatility remains historically high, so don't let this rally get you thinking that circuit breakers can't get triggered in the future. In this unprecedented crisis, it's certainly possible. If you're there the next time circuit breakers kick in, remember it's likely a sign that market volatility has increased and you might see bigger--and perhaps faster--moves in the market. To combat this, you may want to place smaller orders to account for these sorts of movements. It's also particularly important for investors to have a very clear view of the time frames for their investments--whether those time frames are measured in days, weeks, months, or years. There's not much anyone can do until trading resumes, so consider using the circuit breaker as an opportunity to assess your portfolio and think about your long-term strategy. Hopefully this won't be something anyone has to deal with soon, but as the old motto goes, "Be prepared."Unicorn Sighting: Remember last year's "unicorns"--those exciting young upstarts that went public with lots of vigor? Well, they've been navigating this crisis like everyone else, some with more luck than others. So far, unicorns that serve peoples' "stay-at-home" needs have fared better. For instance, Chewy Inc. (NYSE: CHWY), which delivers pet food and supplies, is up nearly 13% since Jan. 1. Peloton Interactive, Inc. (NASDAQ: PTON), the home exercise equipment maker that made a splash with its TV ads last year, is down slightly since 2020 began, but doing better than the broader market. The plus-side also includes Slack Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: WORK) and Zoom Video Communications, INc. (NASDAQ: ZM)--beneficiaries of the migration of schools and offices to our homes. On the other hand, unicorns dedicated to getting people around, like Lyft, Inc. (NASDAQ: LYFT) and Uber Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: UBER), both got driven down hard. With almost everyone staying home, the likelihood of any near-term initial public offerings (IPOs) from private companies that provide living and workspace like Airbnb and WeWork seems to have faded. Meanwhile, last year's darling of unicorn darlings, Beyond Meat, Inc. (NASDAQ: BYND), has crumbled 14% this year. It does remain well above its IPO price of $46, however, at around $65 on Friday. That's down from the peak of nearly $240 last July. Here's a company with a product that people and restaurants flocked to in normal times. Now, however, plant-based meats seem like a low priority for restaurants just struggling to stay open. Especially at this point when one famed Chicago steakhouse is offering carry-out prime New York Strip steaks for $30 each. Fire up the backyard grill! Barometer Check: Since we're talking about some of the smaller stocks, how about a look at the Russell 2000 Index (RUT)? It's down 32% year-to-date, which easily trails the SPX (down 21%) and might reflect peoples' ideas that smaller companies--which typically have more exposure to the domestic economy than their bigger brothers in the SPX--might be more vulnerable to the virus impact here at home. On the other hand, regional banks, which form an oversized portion of the RUT, showed a little life last week thanks in part to some help from the financial stimulus. Seasoned traders will probably tell you that small-caps often can be good barometers for the domestic economy, so any hints that the RUT is starting to turn things around are potentially positive for more than just small-caps. Consider keeping an eye on it to see if it can start catching up with the SPX. The good thing is that as of Friday, the RUT was up 17% from its mid-March low, a little better than the 16.5% increase the SPX logged from its low point.See more from Benzinga * April Markets: Curtain Raising On Earnings, But Guidance May Take Center Stage * Regional Banks, Other Cyclicals Saw Buying Interest Yesterday Amid Stimulus Hopes * Airlines Could Be In Focus Today After Senate Passes Economic Stimulus Bill(C) 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
“There’s no gold,” says Josh Strauss, partner at money manager Pekin Hardy Strauss in Chicago (and a bullion fan). There’s roughly a 10% premium to purchase physical gold for delivery. Major gold dealers have sold out of coins and gold bars amid panic buying as the U.S. economy plunges and the government agreed to a record $2 trillion emergency lifeline.
The 2020 meltdown in stocks was more extreme than any other bear market, including those in 1929, 1987 and 2008. The chart below compares the first 31 days of the 2020 crash (in yellow) with the first 31 days of the 1929, 1987 and 2008 bear markets.
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