Market Update: U.S. Stocks Plunge; Carnage in Crypto Land

U.S. stocks declined sharply on Wednesday, as global growth concerns and a rollover in technology shares triggered a fresh selloff on Wall Street. Meanwhile, cryptoassets lost their yearly price floor as bitcoin and the major altcoins plunged double digits on the eve of the BCH hard fork.

Stock Selloff Resumes, Then pauses

All three major U.S. indexes booked heavy losses midweek. The large-cap S&P 500 Index declined 0.8% to 2,701.61. Losses spread across nine of 11 primary sectors, with financials and information technology leading the downtrend.

Slumping tech shares undercut the Nasdaq Composite Index, which fell 0.9% to close at 7,136.40.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 205.45 points, or 0.8%, to end the day at 25,081.04. Tech bellwether and Dow blue-chip Apple Inc. (AAPL) flirted with bear-market territory as concerns over iPhone shipments continued to weigh. Since peaking above the trillion-dollar mark, Apple’s market capitalization has fallen by over $200 billion.

Concerns about peak revenue and disappointing sales targets have contributed to a mass exodus out of technology shares in recent months. The S&P 500’s information technology index has pared its year-to-date return to less than 7% amid the latest drop. The index was up more than 20% for the year through Oct. 2.

Global Growth Woes in Focus

Signs of a slowing global economy have lowered risk appetite across major asset classes, with recent data showing downturns in both emerging and industrialized markets. On Wednesday, the German government said its economy shrank in the third quarter for the first time in over three years.

German gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 0.8% annually in Q3, casting a large shadow over the Eurozone economy. Germany accounts for roughly one-fifth of euro area output and is the backbone of its manufacturing sector.

Separately, Japan reported that its economic output declined 1.2% annually during the same period, as global trade tensions undermined business confidence.

The latest data show a dramatic divergence in economic fortunes between the United States and its global allies. Under President Trump, the U.S. economy expanded 3.5% annually in the third quarter. In Q2, GDP growth reached multi-year highs at 4.2%.

Cryptocurrency Market Notches New Yearly Low

The crypto market took a decisive shift lower on Wednesday, as coin values lost a combined $30 billion in value in just over 24 hours. Among the top 20 coins, losses ranged between 9% and 17%, with bitcoin, Ethereum and the leading tokens losing billions in market cap.

Bitcoin’s selloff touched 13-month lows, with prices briefly falling below $5,400. Despite the loss, bitcoin’s share of the overall market cap increased.

While there was no single catalyst for the selloff, anxiety over bitcoin cash and its pending hard fork seems to have influenced investor sentiment. At the time of writing, BTC was down 17%, having completely erased the 50+% gains it registered in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 15 hard fork.

The combined crypto market cap reached a new yearly low of $182 billion on Wednesday. Trade volumes spiked nearly 40% to $19.7 billion.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chief Editor to and Contributor to, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi