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Dow Plummets 190 Points as Market Braces for Worst Earnings in Years

Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:44 PM
Sam Bourgi
Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:44 PM

The Dow and broader U.S. stock market declined in unison on Tuesday, as jittery investors pivoted away from riskier assets in anticipation of a gloomy earnings season for Wall Street.

Dow Falls Hard; S&P 500, Nasdaq Follow

All of Wall Street’s major indexes headed lower on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing as much as 238 points. The blue-chip index closed down 190.44 points, or 0.7%, at 26,150.58.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average falls triple digits as U.S. tariff threat, earnings expectations weigh. | Chart via Yahoo Finance.

The broad S&P 500 Index of large-cap stocks declined 0.6% to close at 2,878.20, with nine of 11 primary sectors trading in the red. Sectors tied to primary commodities were the hardest hit, with industrials and energy companies declining by at least 1.3%.

Meanwhile, the technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.6% to finish at 7,909.28.

The CBOE Volatility Index, also known as the VIX, reached a session high of 14.35 on a scale of 1-100 where 20-25 represents the historic average. VIX closed near session highs on Tuesday.

Valuation Risks Threaten Bull Market as Earnings Season Underway

wall street dow jones djia
U.S. corporate profits set to decline for the first time since 2016. | Source: Shutterstock.

Wall Street’s earnings season begins in earnest this week, with JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM) and Wells Fargo & Co (EFC) due to report on Friday. For the first time since 2016, annual profits for S&P 500 companies are forecast to decline, with energy, materials, and information technology stocks likely to be the hardest hit.

With the S&P 500 coming off its best start to a year since 1998 , some investors are worried that declining profits could undermine the bull market. The large-cap index already suffers from overvaluation risks; at current levels, its per-share earnings are more than 16.5 times forward earnings. According to data  from Morgan Stanley, that’s the average reading of the past five years and a strong indication that the market is overvalued.

Read more: Does This Chart Spell Doom for the S&P 500 Index? 

Reporting season picks up next week with Dow blue-chips Goldman Sachs Group (GS), IBM Corp (IBM), and UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) all set to report on Monday. Netflix Inc. (NFLX) will also hold its earnings call Monday.