As losses snowballed in U.S. stocks around midday, the best thing U.S. bulls had to say about the worst start to a year since 2001 was that there are 248 more trading days to make it up.

“My entire screen is blood red — there’s nothing good to talk about,” Phil Orlando, who helps oversee $360 billion as chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors Inc., said around noon in New York, as losses in the Dow Jones Industrial Average approached 500 points. “On days like today you need to take a step back, take a deep breath and let the rubble fall.”

Taking a break and breathing helped: the Dow added almost 150 points in the last 30 minutes to pare its loss to 276 points. Still, investors returning to work from holidays were greeted by the sixth-worst start to a year since 1927 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, which plunged 1.5 percent to erase $289 billion in market value as weak Chinese manufacturing data unnerved equity markets.

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