The last 24 hours have been a wild ride for stocks, as U.S. markets briefly erased all of this year’s gains while corporate earnings largely disappointed.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average regained over 300 points in Thursday trading, trying to claw back some of the 608 points it lost Wednesday. The S&P 500 also partly rebounded after it dropped more than 3 percent on Wednesday.
“The current decline is more a function of a weakening technical position as opposed to the fundamentals breaking down,” Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Baird, said in a note Wednesday evening.
Wednesday’s decline added to what has already been a troubling October for Wall Street. As of Wednesday’s closing, the Dow had lost 7.1 percent this month and was on track for its biggest monthly loss since May 2010. The S&P 500 was down 8.9 percent in October and headed for its biggest one-month decline since February 2009. The Nasdaq shed 11.7 percent and was on pace for its worst monthly performance since October 2008.
Then came the earnings reports after the closing bell.
Advanced Micro Devices shares plummeted over 25 percent in after-hours trading after the company gave weak revenue projections for the remainder of the year. Southwest Airlines stock tumbled after the carrier warned shareholders that its costs are rising. Shares of pharmaceutical giant Merck slipped after the company’s latest quarterly revenue report was weaker than expected by analysts surveyed by FactSet.
A few tech companies helped the market regain its footing overnight. Microsoft shares rose as much as 4 percent after hours after the tech bellwether beat expectationson the top and bottom lines. Tesla shares rose 5 percent on the day after the automaker reported a surprise profit for its third-quarter earnings. Twitter stock also popped Thursday, with the company reporting strong quarterly earnings results despite a purge of bots and other accounts on its platform.
Only two S&P 500 sectors are up this month: consumer staples, 1 percent, and utilities, 3 percent. The group of core American brands is on pace for the fifth straight month of gains. What concerns investors is the timing: Consumer staples is enjoying its longest winning streak since November 2009.
An investor shift to consumer staples stocks is considered a defensive sign during their longest market bull run in history. However, analysts say consumer staples needs to gain more compared with other sectors, such as tech, before being considered overpriced.
– CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.