Evergrande isn’t the only reason the stock market is headed for its worst day in 2 months. Here are 7 other reasons

 Evergrande isn’t the only reason the stock market is headed for its worst day in 2 months. Here are 7 other reasons

U.S. stock benchmarks were on track to post the worst daily drop in more than two months, with the skid being blamed on the potential collapse of Evergrande. The Chinese property giant is threatening to default on $300 billion in debt that could ripple through global markets.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average
the S&P 500 index

and the Nasdaq Composite

indexes were all facing sharp declines at Monday’s open.

However, the sharp downturn by the highly leveraged real-estate sector, which the Financial Times notes makes up more than 28% of China’s economy, isn’t the only problem for markets on Monday.

Here are a few others.

Delta woes

The delta variant of COVID-19 is resulting in higher cases in the world’s largest economy.

The U.S. is now averaging more than 2,000 deaths daily, according to a New York Times tracker, the most since March 1, and consist almost entirely of unvaccinated people. Florida, which has vaccinated 56% of its population, is averaging 353 deaths a day. Texas, where 50% of the population is inoculated, is seeing 286 deaths a day, according to the Times. The two states account for more than 30% of all COVID-19 deaths since March 1.

Fed taper talk

Markets are fixated on the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee’s Sept. 21-22 meeting, where Fed officials facing the prospect of removing accommodations that have propped markets up since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., even as the economic rebound looks uneven.

The Fed has been buying $80 billion of Treasurys and $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities each month since last June to keep long-term interest rates low and bolster demand. It said it would maintain the purchases until the economy hit a threshold of “substantial” progress on inflation and the labor market and the question the market is weighing is whether the time for tapering those asset purchases is now.

A number of Fed officials have expressed a desire to announce tapering at its September meeting and begin the initiative before year-end, with an eye toward concluding it by 2022.  

Investors are anxious about the timetable for such reductions and are also looking out for any signals of an interest-rate increase in 2022.

Debt ceiling

On Sunday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urged Congress to raise or suspend the nation’s debt ceiling or risk “widespread economic catastrophe.”

In an op-ed column published by The Wall Street Journal, Yellen noted that the U.S. has never defaulted, and said it must not now.

Congress has raised or suspended the debt limit about 80 times since 1960, Yellen said, and during the Trump administration Democrats agreed three times to suspend the debt ceiling.

The country’s accumulated debt is about $28.4 trillion.

September season

There is a growing sense that valuations are rich and the Federal Reserve’s easy-money punchbowl will soon be yanked away at the worst possible time. Seasonally, September has been one of the worst months for stocks and investors think that the market might trade true to trend.

A correction is due

Strategists think that the market is due for a significant pullback as the S&P 500 has marked more than 200 sessions without a drawdown of 5% or more from a recent peak, making the current stretch of levitation the longest such since around 2016, when the market went 404 sessions without falling by at least 5% peak to trough.

Inflation lingers

Inflation continues to dog markets. Data recently showed that the cost of living for Americans rose in August at the slowest pace in seven months and signaled a big surge in inflation this year may have peaked, but Americans probably aren’t going to get much relief from higher prices soon.

Inflation is defined as the cost of living rising across the board with purchasing power diminishing. It isn’t uncommon for prices to rise and an increase of about 2% annually is typically seen as appropriate for a healthy economy.

However, price increases have been higher than in recent years in the aftermath of the economic shocks from the COVID pandemic.

Aside from a brief oil-driven spike in 2008, consumer prices have risen this year at the fastest pace in three decades. And a new survey by the New York Federal Reserve shows consumers expect inflation to average 5.2% in the next 12 months.

However, market participants and corporate executives aren’t clear on the duration of pricing pressures, including wage inflation, and how much of that can be passed on to customers.

Wages are climbing at the fastest pace in more than a decade and companies desperate to hire more workers are raising wages because they can’t find enough qualified applicants.

Buy the dip?

Investors have grown accustomed to buying market downturns, referred to as buying the dip. However, Monday’s action, and trading over the past week, suggests that investors are becoming more reluctant to purchasing beaten down stocks with expectations that stock values will resume record run-ups after modest declines.

On Friday, the S&P 500 closed below its short-term trend line for the first time since around June, which could reflect the erosion of buy-the-dip behaviors.

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