Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February Flush: Stocks Pounded As Worst Month Since January 2016 Ends

The Dow Industrials lost a total of just more than 1000 points for the month of February, which, on the surface, may sound like a big deal, but, in reality, it amounts to merely a four percent loss.

In other words, if one had $100,000 at the start of the month, it would be only $96,000 at the end. Not much to worry about, right?

Maybe so, but this month-long fall, rise, and fall had a number of interesting characteristics, and the supporting (or non-supporting) data is suggesting that whatever has shaken markets is not yet over, especially when the losses on the final day of the month were the fourth largest of the month and the biggest since the 1000+ point washout on February 8.

The entire month was marked by voracious levels of volatility. Out of 19 trading days, 15 featured closes more than 150 points higher or lower than in the previous session. Breadth continues to erode; Wednesday's advance-decline line showed losers outpacing gainers by a 5:2 margin. New 52-week lows are beginning to pile up while new highs are on the wane.

Economic data hasn't been very encouraging. Today's second revision of 4th quarter 2017 GDP came in at 2.5%, slightly lower than the 2.6% reported in January. New and existing home sales have slumped for two consecutive months, and today's Chicago's PMI reading of 61.9, was a six-month low, down from 65.7 in January.

Inflation appears to be picking up steam in some areas, slipping in others, and bond yields remain elevated in the near term. With the Fed set to raise the federal funds rate in March, there's little to make the case for a sustained continuation of the aging bull market, now approaching nine years since the Great Financial Crisis.

Wednesday's losses left the Dow down 4.6% from it's January all-time highs. It's not exactly a huge obstacle to overcome, but it's beginning to look more like a mountain than a molehill.

Dow Jones Industrial Average February Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
2/1/18 26,186.71 +37.32 +37.32
2/2/18 25,520.96 -665.75 -628.43
2/5/18 24,345.75 -1,175.21 -1,803.64
2/6/18 24,912.77 +567.02 -1,236.62
2/7/18 24,893.35 -19.42 -1,256.04
2/8/18 23,860.46 -1,032.89 -2288.93
2/9/18 24,190.90 +330.44 -1958.49
2/12/18 24,601.27 +410.37 -1548.12
2/13/18 24,640.45 +39.18 -1508.94
2/14/18 24,893.49 +253.04 -1255.90
2/15/18 25,200.37 +306.88 -949.02
2/16/18 25,219.38 +19.01 -930.01
2/20/18 24,964.75 -254.63 -1184.64
2/21/18 24,797.78 -166.97 -1351.61
2/22/18 24,962.48 +164.70 -1186.91
2/23/18 25,309.99 +347.51 -839.40
2/26/18 25,709.27 +399.28 -440.12
2/27/18 25,410.03 -299.24 -739.36
2/28/18 25,029.20 -380.83 -1120.19

At the Close, Wednesday, February 28, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,029.20, -380.83 (-1.50%)
NASDAQ: 7,273.01, -57.35 (-0.78%)
S&P 500: 2,713.83, -30.45 (-1.11%)
NYSE Composite: 12,657.31, -161.91 (-1.26%)
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