Why the Dow keeps sinking

Posted November 20, 2018 9:47 a.m. EST

— The gloom-and-doom on Wall Street has wiped out the stock market's gains for the years.

The Dow dropped 450 points, or 1.7%, on Tuesday. Retailers like Target (TGT) and Kohl's (KSS) led the S&P 500 1.3% lower.

Tech stocks once again got hit hard, with the Nasdaq sinking 2%. Apple retreated another 3% after Goldman Sachs dimmed its price target on the iPhone maker for the second time in a week.

All three major indexes are now slightly lower for the year. The Dow is more than 2,300 points off its peak.

"The highways will be crowded this evening as the Thanksgiving rush will begin in earnest, but this morning investors are rushing for the exits," Paul Hickey, co-founder of Bespoke Investment Group, wrote to clients on Tuesday.

The Dow lost nearly 400 points on Monday as well. This week's selloff marks a continuation of a glum two months on Wall Street. The S&P 500 is flirting with dipping back into correction territory, marking a 10% retreat. The index is down more than 9% since its record high on September 21.

The losses reflect investors bracing for the end of the fantastic economic and profit growth that marked the past year. Analysts expect a deceleration in 2019 driven by tariffs, the fading impact of the tax cuts and higher borrowing costs caused by the Federal Reserve.

"Put simply, stocks have already started to price in the risk of an economic slowdown," Goldman Sachs chief US equity strategist David Kostin wrote to clients on Tuesday.

Morgan Stanley warned on Monday that the US stock market is already in a bear market. The firm noted that more than 40% of the S&P 500 is down 20% from recent highs.

"The market is speaking loudly that bad news is coming," Morgan Stanley equity strategist Michael Wilson wrote to clients.

Slowdown fears were front-and-center in the retail sector. Disappointing results sent Target and Kohl's more than 10% lower on Tuesday. TJX Companies (TJX) and Ross Stores also retreated. Home improvement retailer Lowe's (LOW) lost 5% after posting results. That leaves the home improvement retailer on track for its ninth straight daily loss.

Investors continue to flee from the tech darlings that once carried the market higher. Worries about lackluster demand for the latest iPhones have weighed heavily on Apple (AAPL). Other momentum stocks like Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN) and Facebook (FB) are under heavy pressure. Google owner Alphabet is in its first bear market since 2011.