U.S. markets and stock ETFs continued their retreat Thursday as plunging oil prices dragged on the energy sector.
On Thursday, the Invesco QQQ Trust (NASDAQ: QQQ) fell 0.3%, SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (NYSEArca: DIA) was 0.5% lower and SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY) dropped 0.2%.
The equities markets started the day off on a solid footing as Treasury yields initially helped bolster banks that benefit from an improving global outlook with no imminent rate cuts at hand, but the conditions quickly turned once oil prices plunged and soured the risk-on sentiment.
The energy sector was the worst performer in the S&P 500 as crude oil prices plummeted almost 4% on the bearish turn, following updated U.S. inventory levels, the Wall Street Journal reports. Domestic crude stockpiles are not at their highest since September 2017.
Meanwhile, with the U.S. set to end its Iran sanction waivers programs and begin banning all Iran oil exports, Saudi Arabia pledged to bolster oil output to make up the difference, further weighing on crude prices.
“The markets seemed to be stalling out after hitting all-time highs and the focus just shifted towards taking some money off the table,” Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC, told Reuters.
On the other hand, bank stocks were among the lone areas of strength after the Federal Reserve signaled it would not cut interest rates any time soon, given the healthier global economic outlook.
“Given the Fed commentary, it seems like we’re in this accommodative period for longer,” Justin Wiggs, managing director in equity trading at Stifel Nicolaus, told the WSJ, adding that If that is true, a decent case can be made to buy companies that have low price/earnings multiples. “By that measure, financials are some of the cheapest stocks out there.”
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