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11 October 2018, 10:04 | Hattie Nash
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down by more than 600 points at one point on Wednesday
The S&P 500 is on track for its fifth drop in a row and its biggest decline since April.
The Dow gave up almost 828 points, or 3.15 percent, to 25,600. The Nasdaq fell 315 points, or 4.1 percent, to 7,422. That's helped make technology stocks more volatile in the past few months.
The 10-year Treasury yield remained at 3.20 percent, about where it was late Tuesday, after earlier touching 3.24 percent.
In the 1973-74 stock market crash, for instance, the S&P 500 peaked around 700 in December 1972, and then dropped a percentage point or two nearly every month through October 1973, a 15% decline overall. Higher rates increase borrowing costs, pinching corporate profits.
Technology and internet-based companies are known for their high profit margins, and many have reported explosive growth in recent years, with corresponding gains in their stock prices. It's also bad news for stocks as that means it will get more expensive to borrow money to invest. Chip gear producers Applied Materials, Teradyne and ASML Holdings fell between 3.5 percent and 4.6 percent.
ASX plunges after U.S. bloodbath
BHP was down 2.75 per cent at $33.765, a fall only marginally worse than fellow mining giant Rio Tinto's 2.37 per cent to $77.29. Higher rates can slow economic growth, erode corporate profits and make investors less willing to pay high prices for stocks.
Tom Cahill of Ventura Wealth Management said investors were also unnerved by remarks from luxury company LVMH of a crackdown on some goods in China amid the country's bitter dispute with the United States.
"It's a risk-off environment as investors are focusing on spiking yields and taking profits off the table as they are concerned about whether the bull market is actually coming to an end", said Ryan Nauman, market strategist at Informa Financial Intelligence. The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, a market barometer often dubbed Wall Street's fear gauge, surged more than 25%. Boeing lost 4.7 per cent to US$367.57 and Alphabet, Google's parent company, gave up 4.6 per cent to US$1092.16.
In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 238.87 points or 1.51 per cent, to 15,615.18.
Meanwhile struggling retailer Sears was in focus as the Wall Street Journal reported that it was preparing to file for bankruptcy. And if history is any guide, we won't have to endure too much, as the S&P has been up an average of 14.5% a year after all midterm elections going back to 1946, while all 18 midterms saw higher returns 12 months later, he notes. Sears has closed hundreds of stores and sold several famous brands or put them on the block as it sees more customers abandon its stores.
"You had stocks doing really well, rates for the most part were very well-behaved".
CVS dipped 0.1 percent to $79.40 and Aetna added 0.5 percent to $204.64.
S&P 500 e-mini futures EScv1 and Nasdaq futures NQcv1 were both down 0.1 percent.
The CAC 40 in France dropped 2.1 per cent, Germany's DAX lost 2.2 per cent and the FTSE 100 in London fell 1.3 per cent.
Stocks from emerging markets were also hard hit.
But this upbeat backdrop could bring tighter monetary policy from the U.S. Federal Reserve, which has already raised its key interest rate three times this year. Brazil's Bovespa lost 2.5 per cent and the Merval in Argentina sank 2.2 per cent.
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