It was a typical session in these not so typical times. Trading volume remained light today, with heavy-walleted investors unsure where to spend their dough. Even the Old Economy blue-chips, which handled the Fed's 50-basis-point hike in stride, were up for sale, as future-interest-rate uncertainty continued plaguing the market.
Combine a 50-basis-point hike, cautionary
comments on future rate increases and a double
expiration and you have a recipe for a selloff. Add some hawkish comments from the some government insiders, and you're almost certain of a red-ribbon plunge. Yesterday,
New York Fed
President William McDonough said during a speech at the
New Jersey Business Conference
that the U.S. economy was showing signs of strain and that the Fed would have to keep a careful eye on inflation. Could the Fed be setting the stage for another 50-basis-point hike in June, at the next
Investors thought so, and cashed in shares that they held even in the wake of Tuesday's half-point hike. "There's not a lot of activity and conviction," said Jack Ablin, managing director at
Colonial Asset Management
. "Everyone is sitting on the sidelines and we don't see a catalyst before the next FOMC meeting, unless there is some weaker-than-expected economic data."
Dow Jones Industrial Average finished off the day down 150.43, or 1.4%, to 10,626.85. Although tech components
were smothering the index, its financials
, off 3.1%, and
, down 2.9%, were not lending any air either.
American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index
was slammed 17.66, or 3.7%, to 455.98.
, which had a strong run during yesterday's session, fell back 5 1/2, or 5%, to 103 9/16.
But in the face of a selloff, there's always someone doing a little bargain-hunting. According to Ablin, who put some money to work in the chip and retail sectors, investors can shop for bargains in the sectors that have been hit the hardest.
"We draw a line in the sand and pick levels where we want to own stocks," he said. "If it crosses the line, we buy. We try to take a lot of emotion out of the stock. This is a market where you really just need to have a lot of patience."
Elsewhere on the
New York Stock Exchange, the drug stocks were one sector that wasn't succumbing to the day's selloff. The
American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index
ended on the upside by 0.7%, with gains from
For the majority of stocks, the session was pretty from the get-go, as sellers came in to smack the Nasdaq even lower than it has been in recent sessions. "It's an ugly day," said Peter Blatchford, a trader at
. "With the expiration, we had some buying which made the opening a little less painful but then there was selling."
The Nasdaq declined 148.10, or 4.2%, to 3390.61.
In Nasdaq trading, the semiconductor index was creamed, with a 6% loss from
and an almost 7% decline in
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index was bludgeoned 59.06, or 6.7%, to 824.50.
chalked up losses.
Brian Gilmartin, portfolio manager for
Trinity Asset Management
, suggested that the upcoming congressional vote regarding free trade with China could be a dark cloud hanging over growth stocks. "A no vote could hurt American exports to China. You want to see permanent trading benefits extended to the country because they could be a very large consumer of U.S technology."
S&P 500 fell 30.26, or 2.1%, to 1406.95, while the small-cap
Russell 2000 slipped 11.25, or 2.3%, to 479.70.
Breadth was negative on both the NYSE and Nasdaq, on very light volume.
New York Stock Exchange:
949 advancers, 1,925 decliners, 857.1 million shares. 22 new 52-week highs, 76 new lows.
Nasdaq Stock Market:
1,169 advancers, 2,883 decliners, 1.345 billion shares. 15 new highs, 162 new lows.
For a look at stocks in the news, see the Company Report, published separately.