US stock futures slide as S&P 500 verges on a bear market

By: | Updated: December 26, 2018 8:46 AM

Trump several times over the weekend and also after a brutal trading day on Christmas Eve, CNN reported, citing a source close to the White House.

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average, which entered a bear market yesterday, pared its gain to 0.5 percent at the mid-day trading break after surging as much as 2 percent earlier.

U.S. stock-index futures extended their losses, signaling that the benchmark for American equities could enter a bear market when cash markets reopen on Dec. 26. March contracts on the S&P 500 Index slipped 0.4 percent as of 10:48 a.m. in Singapore, after plunging as much as 1.1 percent and rising as much as 0.5 percent in volatile trading. Futures on the Nasdaq 100 Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5 percent each. The benchmark gauge for American equities is 7 points away from completing a full-blown bear market drop.

Trump called Mnuchin a “very talented guy, very smart person,” when he answered reporters’ questions at the White House after addressing U.S. armed forces members on Christmas Day. He also said that the central bank is “raising interest rates too fast” but he has “confidence” that the Fed will “get it pretty soon.” Mnuchin spoke by phone with Trump several times over the weekend and also after a brutal trading day on Christmas Eve, CNN reported, citing a source close to the White House.

“Markets have pretty much made up their minds on how jumpy they want to be — very,” said Steve Englander, head of global G-10 FX research and North America macro strategy for Standard Chartered Bank. “The question is what is the primary driver of the jumpiness — economic concerns, Fed policy, Trump-Fed conflict, slowing of global growth. Nothing is particularly encouraging right now.”

The U.S. stock market has been roiled in a year of big reversals with the Nasdaq Composite descending into a bear market last week and the nation’s benchmark inching closer to ending the longest bull market ever recorded. Even Donald Trump’s expression of confidence earlier Tuesday hasn’t calmed markets, which had spiraled after Bloomberg News reported that the president had discussed firing the central bank’s chairman over raising interest rates.

“It is very unusual that the bias among the market participants is to the downside during this time of the year, and there’s not a lot of time to fix that,” Walter “Bucky” Hellwig, a senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama, said by phone. “I am not a trader but I checked the futures three times on Sunday and am watching the futures on a Christmas evening as well — when you get moves like this you just can’t ignore them.”

Bernd Berg, global macro and FX strategist at Woodman Asset Management isn’t optimistic. “We are in the middle of the worst storm in global financial markets since the 2008 crisis, with markets crashing from New York to Tokyo,” he said. “As global central banks are unlikely to come to the rescue this time around, the global market crash might continue well into next year.”

Elsewhere, Japan’s Topix index rose on Wednesday after plunging nearly 5 percent on Christmas Day. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average, which entered a bear market yesterday, pared its gain to 0.5 percent at the mid-day trading break after surging as much as 2 percent earlier.

“As far as the futures are suggesting, the market is indecisive right now,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG Asia Pte. “The rather empty calendar and empty desks post-Christmas could mean that there may be little to arrest the fall should it unfold,” she said.

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