Stocks Hit Annual Lows Amid Fed, D.C. Drama

The Dow and S&P are on track for their worst weekly loss in nine months

by Patrick Martin

Published on Dec 21, 2018 at 1:50 PM

It's been a brutal December for Wall Street, and this week was no exception. The Dow and S&P 500 are all staring at their worst week s since March, while the Nasdaq is headed toward its biggest weekly loss since January 2016. Plus, all three indexes remain deep in correction territory, and sport month-to-date deficits of 11% or more.

The sell-off started on Monday, and was exacerbated mid-week following the Federal Reserve's decision to hike interest rates. From there, all three indexes fell to annual lows amid fears of a government shutdown, as President Donald Trump clashes with Democrats over border wall funding. Amidst all this, oil prices explored new lows, and Wall Street's "fear gauge," the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX), climbed to 10-month highs. 

Nike, Boeing are Dow Bright Spots

Despite the dour mood on Wall Street, some positive headlines emerged. Dow stocks Boeing (BA) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) enjoyed early week tailwinds after the blue chips announced buyback plans. Meanwhile, healthcare giant Merck (MRK) just flashed a bullish signal, while Nike (NKE) toasted an impressive quarterly report. However, it wasn't all roses, with newest Dow member Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) heading toward its worst month in years.

Chip Stocks Get Dire Warning From Morgan Stanley

On Wednesday, Morgan Stanley weighed in on the semiconductor sector, urging investors to "stay cautious" amid recent headwinds. The bear note came after Micron Technology (MU) earnings, with the chipmaker issuing a cautious outlook for 2019.

Retail Stocks On Watch Before Christmas

With Christmas right around the corner, retail stocks continued to be in focus. Two stocks you may want to steer clear of are Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) and Best Buy (BBY), with the former flashing a bearish technical signal and the latter still reeling from a harsh downgrade. And while bullish analysts targeted Lululemon (LULU), CarMax (KMX) nabbed a big earnings victory. In addition, athletic retailer Under Armour (UAA) sent up a bullish signal after a bear note.

Next Trading Week is a Short One

Next week will be a holiday-shortened one, with the stock market closing at 1 p.m. ET on Christmas Eve and and shuttered all day on Christmas. While this S&P 500 signal suggests next week could see bullish price action, traders may want to the avoid these stocks in the near term. Looking ahead, here are some FAANG stocks that could have a big 2019.
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The percentage of "buy" ratings on SPX stocks just surpassed the 2014 peak

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