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Investors Should Brace for Monday Selloff

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- After a 7% plunge in equities last week, investors are fearful of what the Standard & Poor's downgrade of U.S. debt will mean for stocks come Monday.

Unfortunately, the outlook is grim if one dusts Friday's trading session for clues. U.S. stock indices rallied more than 1% at the start of trading Friday on a better-than-expected July employment report, retracing some of the 5% loss from Thursday.

Stocks fell anew, however, on market chatter that S&P was planning to announce a downgrade of its triple-A rating on U.S. debt after the closing bell. After briefly topping 11,550, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up its gains and fell as low as 11,150 shortly before midday, a swing of more than 400 points in less than three hours.

Stocks ultimately ended the day mixed, but if Friday's early swoon is any indication, Monday's trading session will see plenty of red. Matthew Rubin, director of investment strategy with Neuberger Berman, says that investors may not have priced in the full extent of an S&P downgrade.

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"We could wake up on Monday morning and see the futures down precipitously, but I want to believe some of this was priced into the market," Rubin said by phone Friday after the S&P announced its decision to cut the rating on U.S. debt to double-A-plus from the coveted triple-A rating.

Jeffrey Sica, president and chief investment officer of Morristown, N.J.-based Sica Wealth Management, says that investors are not caught completely surprised by the downgrade, yet he still expects a "substantial selloff" in equities on Monday as market participants begin to understand the ramifications of the first downgrade of U.S. debt in history.

"We maintained the triple-A rating through the Great Depression and all the wars and recessions, so you have to believe it's going to concern people," Sica said by phone late Saturday. Investors were bracing for a downgrade all week, but "there will be a lot of fear and worry," he adds.

A late Friday downgrade announcement by the S&P was a premeditated move that was designed to allow investors to digest the news.

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