After starting the day in the negative territory, major equity indexes in the United States pushed lower with flight-to-safety dominating the markets toward the weekend. In fact, the CBOE Volatility Index, Wall Street’s fear gauge, is up more than 25% on the day to reflect the sour mood. As of writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was losing 1.35% on the day, the S&P 500 was erasing 1.45% and the Nasdaq Composite was down 1.5%.
Earlier today, the data published by the IHS Markit revealed that the manufacturing sector and the service sector both lost strength in March with preliminary PMI readings retreating from February levels and falling short of market expectations. “US businesses reported a softer end to the first quarter, with output growth easing to the second lowest recorded over the last year,” Chris Williamson, Chief Business Economist at the IHS Markit said.
On the other hand, the apparent economic slowdown in the euro area following disappointing data from Germany and falling 10-year US T-bond yield, which was last down 3.3% on the day, revived concerns over a global economic slowdown and weighed on stock markets, forcing major European indices to finish the day sharply lower.
Commenting on the U.S: economic outlook, “Right now there are clearly enough signs to be cautious about a number of factors that can potentially cause an economic recession. It doesn’t guarantee it,” Frederick said, “but if multiple other pieces of data show the same thing then it just increases the chances,” Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas, told Reuters.
Pressured by the falling bond yields, the S&P 500 Financials Index is losing 2.7% on the day while the S&P 500 Energy Index is erasing 2.5% amid crude oil sell-off. The defensive S&P 500 Utilities is the only sector that is in the positive territory at the moment.