The sell-off in U.S. stocks accelerated, wiping out gains for the year in both the S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, as mixed corporate earnings and weak housing data fueled anxiety that rising prices will crimp economic growth. Treasuries rallied for a second day on demand for haven assets.
The S&P extended its October rout to 8.8 percent, making it the worst month since February 2009. Disappointing earnings from AT&T and Texas Instruments drove declines in the communications and semiconductor groups, offsetting a promising outlook from Boeing. The Dow tumbled 600 points, and the Nasdaq Composite Index lapsed into a correction.
“This is really off the walls,” said Donald Selkin, chief market strategist at Newbridge Securities. “Nothing fundamentally changed during the day. I think it’s a technical breakdown. Look at the Nasdaq — down 300 points.”
Amid the flood of earnings, economic data continued to underwhelm, particularly on the rate-sensitive housing front. New home sales sank again, sending battered homebuilders lower. Fragile market sentiment is also working through reports that potential bombs were sent to two former U.S. presidents and the New York headquarters of CNN.
While stellar earnings haven’t been enough to stem the sell-off equity bulls still point to a deluge of major reports still due this week as a reason for optimism. Microsoft delivered after the close Wednesday and its shares rallied 3.7 percent as of 4:15 p.m. in New York. Amazon.com, Alphabet and Intel headline megacap tech companies that report Thursday.