Sharp Friday Selloff Pulls Week Into the Red

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With all this volatility in the air, we knew not to get too excited about the market’s weekly gains heading into Friday’s session. The skepticism was certainly warranted.

Stocks just don’t feel like moving higher right now, as they struggle with a number of uncertainties. The major indices are taking any chance they get to sell off, and fears over slowing growth in China and Europe provided enough of a reason today.

The Dow dropped 2.02% Friday (or just under 500 points) to 24,100.51, while the S&P is now right at that important level of 2600 after slipping 1.91% to 2599.95. These indices were each down by about 1.2% this week.

The NASDAQ was being scrappy all week as the beleaguered tech space sporadically showed signs of life. But today it slipped 2.26% (or nearly 160 points) to 6910.67. The index declined about 0.8% this week.

Weaker-than-expected economic data from China and Europe completely overshadowed positive retail data here in the U.S., which bodes well for the holiday season. And President Trump tweeted that “China wants to make a big and very comprehensive deal. It could happen, and rather soon!”

But the market was having none of it on Friday. It wants some real movement on the trade issues. Tweets aren’t working anymore.

The big news next week will be the Fed meeting starting on Tuesday. Fed Chair Powell and Friends are still expected to hike rates for the fourth time this year. But what about next year? We’ve heard some dovish sentiment of late amid this correction, so the market will be paying close attention to the language for any additional signs that future increases may be delayed. A Santa Claus Rally in the final week of 2018 may just depend on what these folks have to say.

And let’s not forget that this skittish market can react dramatically to any headline that comes our way. Let’s get ready for another choppy week heading into the holiday.

Today’s Portfolio Highlights:

TAZR Trader: With the market remaining under pressure even in the historically strong month of December, Kevin felt it was time to “start training our ‘short’ muscles for the increased volatility”. On Friday, the editor initiated two small test positions by shorting retailer Dillard’s (DDS) and amusement park operator Six Flags (SIX). Both of these stocks are Zacks Rank 5s (Strong Sells) after disappointing quarters that included negative earnings surprises and lowered guidances.

Meanwhile, with Micron set to report earnings next Tuesday, Kevin also added a 10% position in Direxion Semiconductor 3X Bear ETF (SOXS). Basically, as goes MU, so goes the semiconductors. Shares and earnings estimates for the stock are heading lower, and the editor plans to capitalize on the weakness with this bearish move. Read the complete commentary for specifics on these moves and a look at MU’s chart.

Insider Trader: “It was another nasty day on Wall Street to finish the week. And while there was a lot of red, unfortunately, this just simply wasn’t one of those “panic selling” type of days. In fact, today’s sell off was extraordinarily orderly which is bad news for those of us looking for a market bottom.

“But all this bearishness is still really bullish. I’ve seen so many recession calls for both 2019 and 2020 that most would probably say it’s a 100% certainty that we’re going to get one. But are we? All this agreement has me thinking that they’re all going to get it wrong.

“As I’ve said in the past, you get capitulation after a panic. Those last hold outs, like me, start throwing in the towel. But instead, I’m looking for buying opportunities.” — Tracy Ryniec

Have a Great Weekend,

Jim GiaquintoRecommendations from Zacks’ Private Portfolios:

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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