U.S. markets tumbled to new lows again on Wednesday, reaching their lowest levels since March, amidst broadening trade fears, threats from China, and slackening bond yields.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped nearly 260 points so far, down over 1%, while the S&P 500 slid 1%. The Nasdaq Composite declined by 1%. All indices continue their decline.
Notably, the S&P 500 also handily broke below 2,800, and continues to trade below that price, a key technical level watched by traders, according to many analysts.
“The topping pattern is crystal clear,” Frank Cappelleri, executive director at Instinet, wrote in a note. He added that other stock indexes across the globe were also showing topping patterns. “The equity advance through April was broad, which helped keep the uptrend intact. Now, with so many areas sporting bearish patterns like this, if one breaks, the odds are it will have company.”
The United States and China have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of each others’ goods since the start of 2018, battering financial markets and destroying business and consumer sentiment.
“The market has really gone from a posture of thinking 100% chance of a trade deal, that it was just a matter of when, to now basically thinking there’s probably not going to be a trade deal,” said Larry Benedict, founder of The Opportunistic Trader.
Just recently, China postured that it could use its dominance over the rare earth metals market, a market crucial to the U.S. technology and defense industries, to gain leverage in the trade war.
“We advise the U.S. side not to underestimate the Chinese side’s ability to safeguard its development rights and interests. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!” the People’s Daily said in a commentary titled “United States, don’t underestimate China’s ability to strike back.” The paper is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China.
Only twice in history has China used the phrase, “Don’t say we didn’t warn you!” Once the phrase was used in 1963 ahead of China’s border war with India and the other instance was in 1987 right before China went to war with Vietnam.
The Opportunistic Trader’s Benedict notes that the market’s decline has been steady and without many large moves, making it much more sinister.
“This move is worse because everybody is waiting for a bounce and it hasn’t come,” he said. “If we went down 3% and then bounced up 1%, that’s a better scenario than drifting lower … It’s like a slow death.”