The Federal Reserve Bank was no assistance to investors today.
The Dow index rose at the morning in anticipation of the Fed’s two o’clock meeting and afterward dropped 600 points in the following hour. The index ended the day down 1.49%, setting a new low for the year. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes fell 1.54% and 2.17% respectively.
The Entrepreneur Index™ was down 2.28% with only seven of 60 stocks posting gains on the day.
As expected, the Fed raised the Fed funds rate by another quarter point but failed to sound sufficiently alarmed by slowing global growth and market volatility. The market expected the central bank to abandon its plans to hike interest rates three more times next year. Instead, the Fed reduced its expected rate hikes to two. Stock prices plunged and safe-haven Treasury bond prices soared.
Politics is killing Fedex.
The delivery giant beat revenue and earnings estimates with second quarter results yesterday, but dramatically reduced guidance on its outlook because of “bad political choices,” said Fedex CEO Frederick Smith. The stock was down a whopping 12.16 percent today, the biggest decline on the Entrepreneur Index™.
Smith said everything from a messy Brexit to Chinese economic policies to unilateral U.S. tariffs were hurting global growth and Fedex’ business. While the U.S. economy has remained strong, an expected drop in Fedex’s international business led to a 10 percent reduction in the company’s 2019 profit forecast. The stock is down more than 35 percent since mid September and hit a 52-week low today.
Facebook has political problems of its own. A New York Times investigation reported that the company has been sharing user data — including personal messages–with dozens of partner companies without adequate consent. Separately, the Washington D.C. Attorney General will reportedly sue the company over access to user data it previously gave to political research outfit Cambridge Analytica. The stock was down 7.25 percent today and has now fallen 39 percent from its peak in late July.
The rest of the tech sector turned negative after the Fed meeting. Chipmakers Analog Devices (-4.95 percent) and NVIDIA Corp. (-5.74 percent), had the biggest declines.
Tyson Foods, one of the few stocks to rise today, was up 0.55 percent. The food producer might qualify as a defensive stock, less sensitive to the economic cycle. It fared relatively well through the volatile month of October, but has been sliding for the last month and is down 33 percent on the year.
The two shopping center REITs Macerich Company and Kimco Realty Corp. continued to get hammered as investors fret about the department store and big retailer tenants that anchor the REITs’ properties. Macerich (-4.7 percent) is down nearly 30 percent since early August and Kimco (-2.91 percent) has dropped 11 percent in the last two weeks.
Clothing makers also fell sharply. L Brands, maker of Victoria’s Secret lingerie, was down 6.14 percent and Under Armour Inc., which is down 25 percent in the last two weeks, fell 3.77 percent. Ralph Lauren Corp. was down a more modest 1.4 percent.
Specialty retailer Bed Bath & Beyond (0.85 percent) posted the biggest gain on the Entrepreneur Index™ today. Discount retailer Dollar Tree Inc. (0.43 percent) and pipeline manager Kinder Morgan (0.26 percent) also had small gains.
The Entrepreneur Index™ collects the top 60 publicly traded companies founded and run by entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial spirit is a valuable asset for any business, and this index recognizes its importance, no matter how much a company has grown.