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Dow Claws Higher But US Stock Market Faces Critical Test

Last Updated September 23, 2020 12:34 PM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated September 23, 2020 12:34 PM

The Dow Jones enters the US trading session struggling for direction, weighed down by Boeing’s incessant plunge but fighting upwards anyway. Meanwhile, the US stock market faces a critical test as the S&P 500 once again creeps toward a critical resistance line that has thwarted previous recovery attempts.

Dow Creeps North as Index Fights to 120 Point Gain

As of 9:37 am ET, the Dow Jones Industrial had managed to claw its way to a gain of 120 points or 0.47 percent. The S&P 500 rose 11.28 points or 0.4 percent to thrust the index over the 2,800 mark, while the Nasdaq jumped by 35.61 points or 0.47 percent to round out a relatively positive morning for the US stock market.

Dow Jones Industrial Average, DJIA
The Dow (blue), S&P 500 (light blue), and Nasdaq (purple) all climbed on Wednesday. | Source: Yahoo Finance

On Tuesday, the Dow lost 96.22 points, chipping away at the moderate recovery it assembled on Monday following five consecutive losses. Wall Street’s other two dominant indices posted small gains, with the S&P 500 rising 8.22 points or 0.3 percent to 2,791.52 and the Nasdaq jumping 32.97 points or 0.44 percent to 7,591.03.

Boeing Stock Crisis Continues to Weigh on Dow

The Dow continues to struggle in the wake of the tragic Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 passengers and crewmembers and led governments around the globe to halt all flights involving the aircraft model in question, the Boeing 737 MAX 8.

Boeing stock has been in crisis mode throughout the week, suffering steep declines on Monday and Tuesday. BA shares declined another 1.14 percent in pre-market trading on Wednesday and have now plunged more than 12 percent since Friday’s close.

boeing stock price, BA
Boeing shares are bracing for a third consecutive day of declines. | Source: Yahoo Finance

Notably, the US Federal Aviation Administration has refused to ground the 737 MAX 8, even as NPR  reports that US lawmakers including Senators Richard Blumenthal, Elizabeth Warren, Dianne Feinstein, Mitt Romney, and Ted Cruz have called for the agency to do so.

“I believe it would be prudent for the United States likewise to temporarily ground 737 Max aircraft until the FAA confirms the safety of these aircraft and their passengers,” said Cruz, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation and Space.

President Donald Trump, on his part, blamed the crisis on the increasing complexity of modern aircraft, complaining that he doesn’t want Albert Einstein to be his pilot.

One expects the Dow to endure another blow if the FAA does cave to pressure and ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes, particularly as engineers raise serious questions about the aircraft’s certification.

S&P 500 Nears 2,800; Gundlach Warns it’s a Bear Market

The S&P 500, meanwhile, is once again sitting just a handful of points below 2,800, a critical resistance line that has been dubbed  “the place where S&P 500 rallies come to die.” The broad consumer index closed above that mark on March 1 for the first time since November, but the recent stock market hiccup quickly dashed it back into the mid-2700s.

s&p 500
The S&P 500 is once again testing 2,800, the “place where S&P 500 rallies come to die.” | Source: Yahoo Finance

Speaking in an investor webcast, Doubleline Capital founder and CEO Jeffrey Gundlach said that he does not expect to see a bullish breakout  for the index now that it is once again flirting with 2,800. He warned that the stock market is still fundamentally bearish, even if the S&P 500 has surged nearly 20 percent since bottoming out on Christmas Eve 2018.

“The stock market was and still is in a bear market,” Gundlach said.

Gundlach isn’t the only bear feeling emboldened this week. David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff, suggested that the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) data indicates that the US economy is either on the brink of a recession or has already entered one.

If the S&P 500 does once again fail to clear 2,800 and make a strong move to the upside, expect the bears to continue to pound the table on a “Goldilocks rally ” that has allegedly come to an end and could see the stock market crash to its “ugly” December lows.