Global markets tumbled Tuesday heading toward the Thanksgiving holiday as the weeks-long swoon in technology stocks deepened and dragged other sectors – including retail – with it.
All three major U.S. indexes were likely to see their 2018 gains erased if the market decline holds through the session.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 450 points out of the gate.
The Nasdaq composite continued to sell off as the technology majors powering the bull mark markets over the last year continue to sell off on fears of a slowdown.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq is now firmly in correction territory and at a seven-month low. It is down 15 percent from its recent peak. A correction is considered a decline of 10 percent from its high.
The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index dropped 1.5 percent, with around 40 percent of the index in correction territory.
Retailers were slammed Tuesday, with Target and Kohl’s down more than 10 percent. Home repair retailer Lowe’s was down more than 7 percent and Best Buy was down more than 2 percent.
Markets have lost momentum in the past several weeks despite a strong earnings season. Equity investors are digesting a barrage of negativity, from a poor corporate outlook for 2019 to rising interest rates by the Federal Reserve, a strong U.S. dollar hurting profits and a Chinese trade war.
Asian markets were in the red, led by the Shanghai index at a 2.13 percent loss, followed by Hang Sengand Japan’s Nikkei 225.
Both the Asian and European auto sectors appeared unnerved by the arrest in Japan on Monday of Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who is accused of under-reporting his pay and may be forced out of his chairmanship. Nissan shares a partnership with French automaker Renault and with Mitsubishi.
Oil prices fell further, adding to market tensions. West Texas Intermediate was down 1.66 percent and benchmark Brent Crude was down 1.9 percent. Oil prices are down about 20 percent over the last several weeks, which some Wall Street watchers see is a sign that the world economy is weakening.
Monday was no help as a key report on homebuilders showed a softening in homebuilder sentiment. The index dropped 8 points, the lowest reading in more than two years.
But the market is suffering the most from the big-growth technology titans. The FAANG companies alone – Facebook, Amazon.com, Apple, Netflix, Google-parent Alphabet – have seen nearly $1 trillion shaved from their total market capitalization since their recent highs.
Facebook is down 40 percent from its high, with a loss of around $250 billion in market cap. Amazon (founded by Washington Post owner Jeffrey P. Bezos) is down 25 percent, Apple down 20 percent, Netflix 35 percent and Google around 20 percent.
Apple and Facebook have been pounded in recent weeks following negative news stories, including fears of a drop in demand for Apple’s big driver, the iPhone and reports of tumult in embattled Facebook’s executive ranks.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Thomas Heath