US Markets Slide Amidst Global Gloom

Stock market investing is surely not for the faint-hearted, especially in these times where every new day seems to bring a new, and often unprecedented, challenge. Following the announcement by the U.S. Federal Reserve that it would begin buying government bonds in an effort to stimulate the persistently sluggish economy, stocks and interest rates plummeted on Wednesday, reflecting the trepidation of investors with regard to economic recovery. Other factors that impacted negatively on markets included the news from the U.S. Commerce Department that, primarily due to the fall in exports, the trade deficit for June widened to reach its highest level in 20 months. It follows that a decline in exports will lead to a slow-down in U.S. manufacturing, which is particularly disappointing, given that the manufacturing sector had shown the most promising signs of recovery earlier this year.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped by 265.42 points (2.5 percent) to 10,378.83, with the decline for the week being 274.73 points (2.6 percent) and reflecting a decline for the year of 49.22 points (0.5 percent). The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 31.59 points (2.8 percent) to 1,089.47, with the drop for the week being 32.17 points (2.9 percent) setting its decline for the year at 25.63 points (2.3 percent). The Nasdaq composite index also felt the blow as it fell 68.54 (1.2 percent) to end Wednesday at 2,208.63, with the decline for the week being 79.84 points (3.5 percent), and for the year 60.52 points (2.7 percent).

In addition to disconcerting news on the home front, U.S. markets were affected by news that China’s industrial growth rate was its slowest in eleven months, along with Japan’s disappointing economic news, including the fact that industrial orders for July were significantly weaker than forecast. As commodity prices went sliding downhill, markets experienced the largest one-day increase in the dollar vs. euro since the so-called flash-crash on May 6. A spokesman for the White House was reported as saying that the United States is “not immune to slowdowns that might start in other parts of the world” – a statement that may spread the blame for the see-sawing of markets over a wider base, but nevertheless leaves U.S. stock market players with more to consider than just local data when making investment decisions.