The major domestic equity indexes closed out the trading day in negative territory for a second day in a row on Tuesday, as energy shares moved lower in conjunction with oil prices. At the same time, retailers such as Target and Kohl’s fell due to weak earnings and forecasts going forward, adding to concerns over future economic growth.
The Nasdaq closed at its lowest level in more than seven months while the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at their lowest point since late October, a day after Apple, internet leaders and other technology shares fell, further shaking confidence in a group of stocks that has propelled the long bull market.
Apple shares was down again on Tuesday, falling 4.8 percent to its lowest level since early May, as concerns lingered over slowing demand for iPhones. Target fell 10.5 percent after third-quarter profit missed analysts’ estimates. The company’s investments in its online business, higher wages and price cuts hurt margins.
Signs of lower demand for iPhones have wide-ranging implications for technology and internet companies.
Apple’s shares have now lost more than 20 percent of their value, which is roughly $250 billion, since the stock’s Oct. 3 record closing high.
Goldman Sachs trimmed its price target on Apple for the second time in just over a week, saying the balance of price and features in the new iPhone XR may not have been well received by users outside of the United States.
Kohl’s saw a decline of 9.2 percent after its full-year profit forecast fell below expectations.
Warnings from retailers added to caution for investors, already on edge over recent sharp losses in technology shares, a slowdown in global growth, peaking corporate earnings and rising interest rates.
The day’s losses left the S&P 500 and Dow in negative territory for the year, with the Dow now down about 1 percent and the S&P 500 down 1.1 percent since Dec. 31.
The S&P energy index was down 3.3 percent and led sector losses. Domestic crude oil prices ended the day down 6.6 percent amid concerns about rising global supplies. The S&P 500 retail index lost 2.7 percent in its eighth straight session of losses.
Among other retailers, home improvement chain Lowe’s fell 5.7 percent after it unveiled further plans of restructuring in the face of worse-than-expected sales numbers.
TJX was down 4.4 percent after the discount retailer’s holiday-quarter earnings forecast came in largely below estimates. Smaller rival Ross Stores was down 9.4 percent after it forecast fourth-quarter same-store sales below analysts’ expectations.
Approximately 9.0 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 8.6 billion-share daily average over the past 20 trading days.
Housing Starts Up
The Commerce Department reported Tuesday morning that homebuilding rose in October amid a rebound in multi-family housing projects, but construction of single-family homes fell for a second straight month. This could suggest that the housing market continues to be mired in weakness as mortgage rates march higher.
Other details of the report show that building permits fell last month, and homebuilding completions were the fewest in a year. Housing starts increased 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.228 million units last month.
Building permits fell 0.6 percent to a rate of 1.263 million units in October.
The struggling housing market is in stark contrast with the broader economy, which has enjoyed two straight quarters of robust growth and an unemployment rate at a near 49-year low of 3.7 percent. Prolonged housing weakness, together with a relentless sell-off on the stock market could stoke fears over the durability of the economy’s strength.
In addition to rising borrowing costs, the housing market is also being squeezed by land and labor shortages, which have led to tight inventories and more expensive homes. Many workers are being priced out of the market as wage growth has lagged.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate is hovering at a seven-year high of 4.94 percent, according to data from mortgage finance agency Freddie Mac. Wages rose 3.1 percent in October from a year ago, trailing house price inflation of about 5.5 percent.
Residential investment contracted in the first nine months of the year and housing is likely to remain a drag on economic growth in the fourth quarter.
Single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, fell 1.8 percent to a rate of 865,000 units in October after declining in September. That portion of the housing market has lost momentum since hitting a pace of 948,000 units last November, which was the strongest in more than 10 years.
Single-family starts in the South, which accounts for the bulk of homebuilding, fell 4.0 percent last month. Single-family homebuilding jumped 14.8 percent in the Northeast and fell 2.0 percent in the West. Groundbreaking activity on single-family homes dropped 1.6 percent in the Midwest.
Permits to build single-family homes fell 0.6 percent in October to a pace of 849,000 units. These permits remain below the level of single-family starts, suggesting limited scope for a strong pickup in homebuilding.
The declining affordability is boosting the rental housing market. Starts for the volatile multi-family housing segment surged 10.3 percent to a rate of 363,000 units in October. Permits for the construction of multi-family homes fell 0.5 percent to a pace of 414,000 units.
Tuesday’s data also suggested that housing supply is likely to remain tight in the near term. Homebuilding completions in October fell 3.3 percent to a rate of 1.111 million units, the lowest level since September 2017.
Realtors estimate that housing starts, and completion rates need to be in a range of 1.5 million to 1.6 million units per month to plug the inventory gap. The stock of housing under construction rose 0.5 percent to a more than 11-year high of 1.137 million units last month. But the multi-family homes segment made up just over half of housing inventory under construction last month.