NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- September has historically been weak in terms of market performance and investors seem determined to play that out in the month's final days, giving the benchmark U.S. indices their biggest down day since July 31.
U.S. stock markets nosedived Thursday as investors reacted to news of bombings in the Middle East and heightened terrorist threat levels on U.S. and French soil. That negativity only exacerbated an end-of-quarter sell-off already in progress. Trading volume was thin as a result of the Jewish holidays.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.54% or more than 250 points, to 16,945.80. The S&P 500
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Watch the video below for a closer look at what sparked the market selloff Thursday:
It was a typical selling-begetting-selling situation that could very well extend into Friday should U.S. second-quarter gross domestic product estimates and consumer index figures for September offer no surprises. Markets could, of course, still could swing higher should the numbers come in unexpectedly strong.
"When markets are moving one direction and things stay dicey in the short-run, the market should continue to go south," said John Buckingham, chief investment officer for the AFAM Capital.
That being said, Buckingham, a long-only investor, remains fully committed to U.S. equities, pointing to favorable valuations, expectations of strong corporate earnings continuing into next year and the historical guarantees of rewards for long-term investors of U.S. stocks. Buckingham said Thursday's pullback was expected, given that periodic breathers have been needed after the markets essentially shot straight up since Oct. 2011.
The S&P is currently down nearly 3% from its peak all-time high peak of 2,019.26 reached on Sept. 19 -- a "normal" fluctuation, said the investment manager. Thursday's sell-off presented opportunities, he noted.