October has often been a nerve-racking month for investors, and this month is living up to that reputation. Stocks slid sharply on Wednesday because investors are worried about rising interest rates.
The Dow was down nearly 400 points. The S&P 500 was on track for its fifth straight decline. And tech stocks were getting hit particularly hard. The Nasdaq dropped 2%.
All three indexes are in the red this month. But the Nasdaq has really taken it on the chin: It has plunged more than 5.5% in October.
Tech is taking its lumps because bond yields have climbed in recent weeks, hovering at a more-than-seven-year high.
Although that’s largely because the US economy is so strong, the spike in rates for the benchmark US 10-Year Treasury has investors wondering if the near-decade-old bull market may finally be ending.
Higher long-term rates could slow down red hot sectors of the economy, including technology, especially as the Federal Reserve seems intent on raising short-term rates for the foreseeable future.
Investors may want to shift out of momentum and into more defensive stocks, companies that aren’t as expensive and also pay healthy, stable dividends.
With that in mind, tech leaders Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB) and Netflix (NFLX) were all leading the market lower Wednesday while stodgier companies like Coca-Cola (KO), Verizon (VZ) and drug giant Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) were trading higher.
Continued worries about a slowdown in China’s economy — especially as trade tension with the United States has escalated — were also dragging down the broader market.
Apple (AAPL), Boeing (BA), Caterpillar (CAT) and Nike (NKE) — Dow stocks that all have a significant presence in China — were among the bigger blue chip losers on Wednesday.