STOCKS KEEP SINKING
Dow declines another 545 points amid fears about interest rates, trade
NEW YORK — U.S. stocks sank more than 2 percent Thursday, the second day of steep declines around the globe driven by concerns about rising interest rates and trade tensions that could slow economic growth.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 545 points after dropping 831 points Wednesday. The two-day loss of 5.3 percent is the biggest for Dow since February. The S&P 500 is also down more than 5 percent over the two days, and after falling for the past six trading days is almost 7 percent below its Sept. 20 high.
The recent turbulence in financial markets is a contrast to what investors have grown accustomed to in a bull market that has lasted more than 10 years, the longest in history. A hallmark of the past decade has been ultra-low interest rates, which the Federal Reserve used to promote growth in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
The Fed has been gradually raising interest rates over the past two years, after not having increased them since the recession. Those higher rates have been the catalyst for recent selling, stoking concerns that slower growth would impinge on corporate profits.
The selling Thursday was widespread. Energy companies sank along with oil prices and CVS led a rout in health care stocks. Technology companies and retailers extended their recent slide.
“There isn’t much of a place to hide right now in the equity market,” said Willie Delwiche, an investment strategist at Baird.
Seeking safety, investors bought gold and government bonds. That pushed bond prices up and their yields down, ending a surge in yields that had touched off the market’s current decline.
There are ongoing concerns about the unresolved trade dispute between the U.S. and China. Strong earnings reports in the coming weeks could soothe investor nerves, but negative comments from company executives about future profits could have the opposite effect. Recently a larger-than-normal number of companies have warned that their third-quarter results could be weaker than analysts expected.
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday as the session nears its end. The S&P 500 has declined for each of the last six trading days.