‘BIGGEST STOCK MARKET RISE IN HISTORY YESTERDAY!’
That is Trump on Saturday morning, referencing the Friday surge by the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +9.36% , the S&P 500 index SPX, +9.29% and the Nasdaq Composite COMP, +9.35% , which constituted the major equity benchmarks’ biggest daily percentage gains since 2008.
Friday’s Dow gain was the largest ever on a points basis, much as Thursday, Monday and Wednesday, respectively, had delivered the blue-chip index’s largest, second largest and third largest one-day point declines.
But Friday’s rally in U.S. stocks that Trump tweeted about only recovered most of the losses suffered a day earlier, when the market saw its worst day on a percentage-loss basis since the Black Monday crash of 1987. The Dow is down about 20% from its record high. That puts it in a bear market.
‘[W]e can all agree that panic infiltrated various aspects of our lives the last few days.’
Friday’s gains followed a week of unrivaled volatility across markets that elicited numerous references to the financial crisis 12 years ago and the 1987 crash, except in some ways this crisis has felt more intense and unsettling to market participants.
“Investor psychology only is clear in hindsight, but we can all agree that panic infiltrated various aspects of our lives the last few days,” wrote Frank Cappelleri, executive director of Instinet, in a research note to clients on Friday.
Indeed, all three stock indexes tumbled into bear-market territory from record heights at their fastest clips in history.
Check out the Trump tweet here:
The catalyst presumably has been COVID-19, the infectious disease that was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December and has rapidly spread to more than 100 countries, infected 147,000 and claimed 5,500 lives so far, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Friday’s rally came after Trump declared a national emergency, opening up access to $50 billion in funding for states and localities to combat the coronavirus pandemic, while saying that the country was ramping up testing and expanding the ability of hospitals and doctors to provide treatments for the pandemic disease.
Focusing on Friday’s burst higher for risk assets, however, might be a mistake against the backdrop of the week’s turbulent nature. The Dow, for example, registered swings of at least 1,000 points in the week’s five consecutive sessions. Put another way, the Dow booked moves of roughly 5% or better for every trading session of the entire week.
|Dow’s point change from March 9-13
|Dow’s % change
Amid those monster moves the blue-chip index saw a swift end put to the longest-running bull market in history, which, perhaps ironically, turned 11 on Monday and was effectively dead by Wednesday, as the World Health Organization elevated to pandemic status the outbreak of the disease spread by the novel coronavirus SARS COV-2.
And one measure of implied volatility on Wall Street, the Cboe Volatility Index VIX, -23.37% , saw an intraday reading on Friday that was its highest since 2008 — a period that saw it register its record level of around 80. The index, known colloquially as the “fear gauge,” has a historic average reading of 19 or 20.
Another measure of market fear, CNN’s Fear/Greed Index, hit 2 on a scale of 100, around its lowest reading in its history, with lower readings indicating more extreme fear.
The week also was marked by a seizing up of the $15 trillion Treasury market, which resulted in the Federal Reserve’s intervening. The central bank took steps to stem what it described a “unusual disruptions” in the market for U.S. government debt by injecting some $1.5 trillion into Wall Street’s key funding markets.
The rate-setting body at the Fed, the Federal Open Market Committee, is now expected to cut the federal funds rates by a full percentage point on Wednesday, March 18, at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting. That on the heels of an emergency half-percentage-point rate cut on March 3. That first intermeeting interest-rate cut in 12 years put the target rate in a range between 1% and 1.25%.
Further action is expected from monetary-policy makers and elsewhere in government as the world attempts to curtail the substantial economic damage already being done by the coronavirus pandemic
Friday’s gains, while, of course, preferable to the opposite by anyone not betting against the market, are seen by some market experts as potentially more indicative of a still-lurking bear than an all-clear signal.