The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite Index fell 2.4-to-2.9 percent Monday along with consumer confidence, amid a storm of market risks including fears that contagion from China’s property market could lead to a Chinese “Lehman moment“.
Bitcoin, which traded above $50,000 earlier this month, had a bad day, down 10 percent on Monday. The broader crypto market was in the red as well. Shares of energy and financial companies were among the worst market performers, and companies in sectors that are exposed to China’s resource-hungry economy experienced big declines, Wall Street Journal reported.
The Dow dropped 2.4 percent, the S&P 500 dropped 2.4 percent and the technology-focused Nasdaq fell 2.9 percent.
“Your 401(k) plan may have seen better days. But as uncomfortable as it can be to see your savings tumble, you’ll likely regret selling,” said Allan Roth, founder of financial advisory firm Wealth Logic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. If you can’t withstand the bad days, you’ll also lose out on the good ones, Roth told CNBC.
China’s troubled property market is credited with helping send stocks toward their steepest declines in months. The drop in global share prices involves property developer China Evergrande Group, which has warned several times that it’s in a cash crunch and it could default on its debt. The company’s business is mostly in China and it has the highest debt load — more than $300 billion worth — of any publicly traded real estate development or management company in the world. Market participants increasingly believe that China will let Evergrande fail, hurting its shareholders and bondholders, WSJ reported.
Hong Kong-listed Evergrande is based in Shenzhen and employs about 200,000 people. Its founder was once the country’s richest man, making his name in residential property. The company claims to own more than 1,300 projects in more than 280 cities in China. It has also invested in electric vehicles, sports and theme parks, food and beverage business, bottled water, groceries, dairy products and more in China.
The company “strayed far from its core business, which is part of how it got into this mess,” Mattie Bekink, China director of the Economist Intelligence Unit, told CNN. Its struggles are an emblem of underlying risks in China, Bekink added: “The story of Evergrande is the story of the deep (and) structural challenges to China’s economy related to debt.”
If Evergrande collapses, it will be “the biggest test that China’s financial system has faced in years,” said Mark Williams, Capital Economics’ chief Asia economist.
While bitcoin fans want the world’s No. 1 crypto to be considered a safe-haven asset, “the growing reality is its price tends to go down with broader declines in risk assets,” Tanaya Macheel reported for CNBC. “Bitcoin’s rally this year has coincided with the risk-on rally and, much like stocks, the cryptocurrency is prone to sharp declines in September.”
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Positive or negative investor sentiment can quickly change the types of assets being traded, according to The Street. When investor sentiment is optimistic, riskier assets tend to cost more — known as “risk-on.” Conversely, when uncertainty or negativity hits the market, investors tend to sell riskier assets and buy “safer” ones less vulnerable to negative investor confidence or a weakening outlook. This is “risk-off.”
Investors also worry about risks such as higher inflation and slowing economic growth as the delta variant spreads. This week, investors will be watching the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting.
“When you have the combination of worries like you have today—deleveraging, Evergrande, the internet sector—then you get more volatility,” said Frank Benzimra, head of Asia equity strategy at Société Générale, according to WSJ.
Some analysts predicted that the stock-market selloff will be short-lived. Benzimra said it’s unlikely Evergrande will lead to a “Lehman moment” like the financial shocks that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.
JPMorgan analysts said in a note on Monday that the market selloff was an “overreaction” exacerbated by poor liquidity and technical factors such as options hedging. “We see the sell-off as an opportunity to buy the dip,” JPMorgan’s Marko Kolanovic wrote in a note Monday.