NEW YORK, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) — U.S. stocks posted steep losses in October as investors grappled with rate hikes and disappointing earnings figures from some of the major U.S. companies.
The Dow retreated 5.07 percent in October, its biggest monthly drop since January 2016. The S&P 500 lost 6.94 percent, its largest one-month decline since September 2011, while the Nasdaq plunged 9.2 percent, its steepest monthly pullback since a 10.8 percent loss in November 2008.
“Interest rate rising was the first catalyst (for the October sell-off),” Larry Benedict, CEO & founder of The Opportunistic Trader, a U.S. market research firm, told Xinhua.
The month started with an uptick in U.S. bond rates, boosted by economic data and comments from top Federal Reserve officials.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that the U.S. central bank had a long way to go before interest rates hit neutral, indicating that more hikes could be on the horizon.
Investors fretted over the interest rate spike, fearing that rising borrowing costs could slow down the economy.
Many hedge fund managers tried to hedge that by buying bonds, putting pressure on equity prices, said Benedict.
“In the stock market, traders are grappling with the ugly reality during tightening cycles since the 1960s that, with just one exception, a series of rate hikes always end in recession. The drop in stocks in October reflects the possibility of recession, which — needless to say — would not be good for corporate earnings,” said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial.
The pullbacks were widespread with tech stocks among the worst performers.
Shares of major U.S. tech giants slumped significantly. Amazon and Netflix ended the month down 20.2 percent and 19.3 percent, respectively. Alphabet suffered a 9.7 percent monthly drop and Facebook declined 7.7 percent.
Investors were inclined to sell the stocks that they had a profit in. The tech index had delivered handsome returns in recent days, said John Monaco, a trader at Wellington Shields & Co. LLC.
The latest quarterly earnings from technology were not satisfactory enough, leading to the sell-off, Benedict said.
Facebook reported mixed results on Tuesday, with earnings topping estimates but revenues missing them. Amazon and Alphabet plunged last week on disappointing results. Apple is scheduled to report its results on Thursday.
Analysts noted that the U.S. election uncertainty and concerns over trade rifts also weighed on the market.
There is further room for downside, although not necessarily a crash or crisis, said some strategists.
Benedict said slower global growth, trade tensions and central banks’ not easing could drive equities lower.
“As long as the Fed continues to raise rates, the grim reality of an overhanging recession risk will be there and the prudent trade will be away from risk assets,” said Low.