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Oct 29, 2018

Stock sell-off intensifies as trade fears are reignited

BNN Bloomberg's closing bell update: Oct. 29, 2018

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U.S. stocks fell, with the S&P 500 flirting with a correction as technology shares tumbled after a report the Trump administration was set to press its trade war with China. The dollar rallied.

The S&P 500 fell as much as 11 per cent from its all-time high before paring the drop in the final 15 minutes of trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid more than 500 points at its worst, dipping into a correction before closing down 1 per cent. The Nasdaq 100 Index tumbled to the lowest level since May. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes are on track for the steepest monthly declines of the record-long bull market.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed Monday down 166.51 points at 14,721.75. The Energy Index was the lead laggard on the day, losing 3.02 per cent, followed by Information Technology (down 1.27 per cent) and Materials (down 1.02 per cent).

Cannabis companies were among the day's biggest losers, with Aphria Inc. suffering the worst hit. Aphria (APH.TO) shares dropped 17.35 per cent - or $2.68 - to close at $12.77. Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) was close behind, losing 16.12 per cent - or $1.48 - to close at $7.70, while Canopy Growth (WEED.TO) lost 14.12 per cent - or $7.15 - to close at $43.48.

Selling intensified after Bloomberg reported the U.S. is preparing to announce by early December tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports if talks next month between presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping fail to ease the trade war. That stoked anxiety in markets already under pressure by concerns from peak earnings growth to the end of easy money and rising rates. More than US$8 trillion has been wiped off of global equities during a rout that’s now a month old. Bulls remain on the back foot, with early gains Monday fueled by speculation stocks had gotten cheap during the sell-off wiped out in afternoon trading.

“There’s this pessimism that has been hanging on this market the whole month,” Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at the Independent Advisor Alliance, said by phone . “A trade war with China was one of the bigger overhangs. Any reminders of that just leads to more pessimism. Out of all the fears out there, that’s the one sticking most in peoples’ minds in terms of a reluctance to believe the economy is going to continue to be strong.”

How Wall Street Views Earnings and the Equity Selloff

Oct.29 -- Anastasia Amoroso, global investment strategist at JPMorgan Private Bank, Troy Gayeski, senior portfolio manager at SkyBridge Capital, and Christopher Verrone, head of technical analysis at Strategas Research Partners, examine technical and fundamental market signals and the current earnings season. They speak with Bloomberg's Jonathan Ferro on "Bloomberg Markets: The Open."

American investors will now turn to earnings this week from tech giants Facebook Inc. and Apple Inc., along with the October jobs report on Friday. Earnings have not been able to save other megacap tech names. Amazon plunged 6 per cent Monday, Netflix lost 5 per cent and Microsoft gave up 2.9 per cent. Boeing led declines in the Dow, with a plunge of almost 6.6 per cent. IBM fell 4.1 per cent after agreeing to buy Red Hat.

“There’s a not-so-faint scent of desperation,” said Christopher Harvey, head of equity strategy at Wells Fargo. “No catalysts left, Fed action will doom the market, trade will only get worse.”

Elsewhere, there were a host of developments hitting specific markets. Brazilian assets rose after Jair Bolsonaro swept to power. The euro fell as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she will quit as head of her party after nearly two decades, though she intends to see out her term as head of state. Mexico’s peso was under pressure after the incoming president canceled airport construction. The pound fell as U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond delivered the country’s budget.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

The S&P 500 Index fell 0.7 per cent at 4 p.m. New York time. The Nasdaq 100 lost 2 per cent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 1 per cent. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index surged 1.3 per cent to the highest in a week. Brazil’s Ibovespa Index rose 2.1 per cent. The MSCI Emerging Market Index climbed 0.5 per cent, the first advance in a week.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index increased 0.6 per cent to the highest in about 17 months. The euro was flat at US$1.1392. The Japanese yen fell 0.4 per cent to 112.34 per dollar, the biggest dip in almost two weeks.

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries added one basis point to 3.08 per cent. Germany’s 10-year yield increased two basis points to 0.38 per cent. The spread of Italy’s 10-year bonds over Germany’s declined 18 basis points to 2.912 per centage points to the smallest premium in more than three weeks.

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude decreased 0.2 per cent to US$67.47 a barrel. Gold fell 0.1 per cent to US$1,231.51 an ounce, the biggest fall in a week.

- with files from BNN Bloomberg