Nov 18, 2018

Stock market volatility is back

Remember volatility? Well, it's back. Take a look, for instance, at the last three months of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Data: Factset; Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Between Aug. 17 and Oct. 9, the average daily range — the difference between the intraday high and the intraday low — was 177 points. Between Oct. 10 and Nov. 16, the average daily range was 455 points, 2.5 times greater.

Why you’ll hear about this again: 400- or 500-point days on the Dow are normal, these days, and they almost always happen for no particular reason.

Other asset classes are seeing a similar failure, on the part of markets, to come to a stable consensus on what they're worth. We've already talked about oil, so let's take a look instead at cryptocurrencies.

  • In just the past week, bitcoin is down 13%, ethereum is down 18% and bitcoin cash (don't ask) is down 30%.

Volatility tends to mean big drops more than it does big rallies. Chipmaker Nvidia has lost almost half its value since the beginning of October, Apple has lost almost $200 billion in capitalization over the same time, J.C. Penney looks like it might drop below a dollar per share, and California wildfires have poleaxed the stock of PG&E.

Be smart: Insofar as you can, it's worth tuning out this noise. The markets have been weirdly, puzzlingly quiet for a couple of years now. In a world where unknowns abound, it makes sense that valuations would be very hard to pin down.

Go deeper

PG&E settles with California regulators as fire victims deal approved

Fire burns near power lines in Montecito, California, Dec. 16, 2017. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) reached a proposed $1.7 billion settlement with state regulators and had a revised $13.5 billion agreement for people impacted by California's fatal 2017 and 2018 wildfires approved Tuesday, AP reports.

Why it matters: The steps mark significant progress for the utility as it seeks to emerge from bankruptcy in the coming months, after Gov. Gavin Newsom rejected its financial rehabilitation plan Friday for falling "woefully short."

Go deeperArrowDec 18, 2019

2019 stock market gains still leave Trump behind his predecessors

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The S&P 500 has jumped 42% under President Trump — according to market data from the inauguration through 2019's final day of trading.

Why it matters: Trump uses the stock market's surge as a barometer of his presidency's success — one that, along with the 50-year low unemployment rate, he's sure to continue to tout as the 2020 election approaches — but the gains under him lag those under former Presidents Barack Obama, when stocks rebounded from the lows of the financial crisis, and George H.W. Bush.

Australian stock market hits record high despite deadly wildfires

Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Facing unprecedented wildfires that have claimed at least 27 lives, destroyed more than 2,000 homes, and scorched much of the country's southeast, Australia's stock market has somehow been one of the world's top performers, and touched a record high today.

By the numbers: The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rallied nearly 1% to close at 6929, surpassing the previous intraday record high.

Go deeperArrowJan 10, 2020