Monday, August 13, 2018

U.S. stock index futures wobbled ahead of market open on Monday, as the Turkish lira continued to slide., spiking markets volatility across the globe. Last week’s concerns over Turkey’s economy continued to weigh on shares of major U.S. lenders, leading to huge selloffs in global equity markets. The Turkish lira fell as much as 20% at one point against the U.S. dollar on Friday after the European Central Bank raised concerns over the country’s economy.

This saw U.S. bank stocks declining, as investors took a cautious stance and moved toward safer assets such as government bonds. That said, the lira somewhat recovered after the Turkish central bank made a move to improve liquidity. Also, Turkey’s finance minister said that the government has chalked out a plan to ease growing tensions. The Turkish lira has lost 45% of its value so far this year, as fears continue to persist over growing tensions with the United States and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s growing power.

Markets ended sharply lower on Friday as Turkey’s economic crisis deepened, pushing the lira to a record low against the dollar. This made investors take a cautious stance against growing global economic tensions, leading to huge selloffs. Also, the S&P 500 registered one of its worst daily declines since late June.  Also, the Dow and the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended the day in red.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) shed 0.8%, to close at 25,313.14, erasing its gains for the month of August. The S&P 500 declined 0.7% to close at 2,833.28, logging one of its worst days in more than a month. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 7, 839.11, shedding 0.7%. A total of 6.7 billion shares were traded on Friday, higher than the last 20-session average of 6.4 billion shares. Decliners outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by a 2.10-to-1 ratio. On Nasdaq, a 1.51-to-1 ratio favored declining issues.

The Dow lost 196.09 points, with shares of Intel Corporation INTC declining 2.6%. Also shares of trade-sensitive companies such as Caterpillar CAT, Boeing BA and 3M Company MMM declined 1.9%, 1.3% and 1.4%, respectively. Caterpillar has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

The S&P 500 shed 20.03 points, registering its third straight daily decline and the worst since Jun 27. Financial and materials stocks were the biggest suffers. The Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) declined 1.2%, while Materials Select Sector SPDR (XLB) shed 1.4%.

Shares of Citigroup C declined 2.4%. Shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM and Wells Fargo & Company lost 1% and 0.7%, respectively. The tech heavy Nasdaq lost 52.67 points, ending its eight-day long winning streak.

Turkey’s economic crisis has been deepening for quite some time now. On Friday, the Turkish lira slumped to a record low against the dollar after the European Central Bank raised concerns over the country. This development was triggered by the re-election of Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a snap vote conducting in June. Erdogan’s increasing power has raised questions about the independence of Turkey’s central bank.

The European Central Bank’s concerns raised volatility in Turkey’s markets, leading to the lira fall to a record low against the U.S. dollar. The U.S. dollar surged 13% against the lira. This was followed by   President Donald Trump announcing doubling of tariffs on a range of goods imported from Turkey.

Understandably, the decline of Turkish lira is a sign of growing instability in global economy, particularly emerging markets. This made investors cautious, leading to huge selloffs. Also, Russia’s markets suffered, adding to global economic tensions. The recently announced U.S. sanctions weighed on Russia’s ruble and tech stocks that rattled markets on Friday.  

The Labor Department said that the Consumer Price Index rose 0.2% in July. Also, the 12-month core inflation rate increased to 2.4%. This is the highest rate since September 2008.

Earlier this month, the Commerce Department had said that the U.S. economy grew 4.1% in the second quarter, the strongest performance in four years. This reflects that the U.S. economy is on steady growth path.

Last week started on a high after strong second-quarter earnings coupled with strong economic fundamentals enabled investors to put aside trade war fears and geopolitical conflicts. Moreover, earlier last week shares of Tesla TSLA skyrocketed following a blog post by its CEO Elon Musk stating that he is considering converting Tesla a private company.

However, trade war fears once again took a toll on markets midweek after U.S. trade representatives published a list of 279 Chinese import product lines, which will be subject of 25% tariffs worth $16 billion and will be implemented on Aug 23. The following day the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced a 25% tariff on $16 billion worth of U.S. goods, which took a tool on markets.

For the week, the S&P 500 declined 0.3%. The Dow declined 0.6%, while the Nasdaq gained 0.4% for the week.

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