While the first quarter of 2018 injected a spike of volatility into the nine-year bull market, the second quarter is shaping up to look just as ugly as the first with U.S. equities on track to have their worst April start since 1929, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. (See also: Hunker Down for a Turbulent Q2: BofA.)
The S&P 500 fell back into a correction Monday as technology led the market lower, with crowded names like Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and Netflix Inc. (NFLX) both down more than 5%. As of Tuesday morning, the S&P 500 reflects a 3% decline year-to-date (YTD), exceeding its 2.5% drop off nine decades ago, preceding a crash that brought on the Great Depression. In 1929, the S&P Composite Index, as it was then called, was comprised of just 90 stocks.
The index also closed below its 200-day moving average, a key technical level, for the first time since June 2016, introducing more volatility into the market.
Bears in Control
In an email with CNBC, Bespoke Investment co-founder Justin Walters suggested that "based on recent market action, the bears clearly have control right now ... The path of least resistance is lower until something comes along to reverse that trend."
Rising fears regarding protectionist trade policies from the White House, tightening monetary policy and heightened regulation on the tech sector, including Trump's new agenda to take down Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos, amid broader uncertainty, have resulted in a highly unstable Q2. On Monday, red hot chip stocks were the latest to take a beating, with Intel Corp. (INTC) down nearly 9% on news that smartphone maker Apple Inc. (AAPL) would no longer use its chips as early as 2020.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) Index has been dragged down 3.9% YTD, driven by concerns over China's retaliatory tariffs in segments such as agricultural goods. Dow component companies with significant exposure to international markets, such as jet maker Boeing Co. (BA) and 3M Co. (MMM), have led the decline. (See also: Why Wall Street's Analysts Won't Give Up on Tech.)