The last day of the quarter is historically a good one in the markets, as fund managers attempt to dress up their portfolio with winners. However, to end Q3 it was fund managers heading to the exits, perhaps to lock in gains for the year, in what could be a rough Q4.
The S&P 500 cash index was higher for the sixth quarter in a row, but barely (4307.54 vs. 4297.50). That marks the worst quarter since Q1 2020 and investors that are looking for a repeat performance of the index over the next few quarters better think again.
More importantly, the index posted its only second losing month for the year, and by far it’s worse. While January was only slightly in the red, for September it was lower by 4.8%. Since the index has had only back to back down months twice in all 2020 and 2021, with the first one being during the early stages of the pandemic, investors may want to take a cautious stance in October.
What makes Thursday’s losses even worse is the index was at one point higher by nearly 40 handles in premarket trading when it peaked at 4389. Therefore, the expanded range to the downside (84.75 handles), ramps up volatility, which usually leads to more volatility.
After attempting at Wednesday’s high (4378.25) off the open, only reaching 4373.50, selling pressure began to mount. Once the index breached the premarket low (4355.25), the pace of the decline accelerated.
The index barely blinked at Tuesday’s low (4334.75) and matched the all-important low from last week (4293.75) as 4294.25 was the low for the session. For the session, the index was lower by 50.50 handles to close 4299.25.
Of the top components in the index, UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) was the biggest loser. The issue closed just off the low the day at $390.74 for a decline of $967 or 2.42%, That was double the cash index’s decline of 1.19%.
The lone winner of the top components was Nvidia Corp (NYSE: NVDA) which ended a three-day losing streak. It added $2.01 or nearly 1 percent to close at $207.16.
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