Nov 20, 2018

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon. One last work day until turkey, followed by football.

1 big thing: Our bumpy 2019

After an epic 2017, the three major U.S. stock market indices are trending toward a negative year in 2018, with a return to volatility and puzzling sell-offs after strong — but not astronomical — earnings numbers in formerly stalwart U.S. stock sectors.

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Data: Money.Net; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Between the lines: Maybe the valuations were a little too hot, or investors were spoiled by double digit returns.

  • Perhaps it's people looking at the economy and forthcoming interest rate hikes and deciding to sell off now in case things turn south.
  • Or maybe it's the fear of second-order effects from a potential cold war with China.

The other side: “This sort of price action is extremely normal,” Peter Lazaroff of Plancorp told MarketWatch. “What was strange was the outsized returns investors have earned in recent years with effectively no volatility.”

Driving the news:

  • The FAANG stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google) have collectively lost $1 trillion in market value from their 52-week highs.
  • Four out of the 5 worst performing S&P 500 stocks today were retail companies (L Brands, Target, Ross Stores, and Kohl's), per FactSet.
  • In the last 3 months, the Volatility Index (VIX) — a fear indicator on Wall Street — has surged more than 50%, per FactSet. The gauge still remains low by historical standards, but it's producing big daily swings like the chart shown below, Axios' Courtenay Brown notes.
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Data: Factset; Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The bottom line: Enjoy the holidays and get some rest. December and 2019 could be a wild ride.

Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Paul Zinken/dpa/AFP

Just a pair of adorable giraffes — baby Ella and her mother Amalka — at their enclosure at Berlin's Tierpark Zoo.

2. What you missed
  1. President Trump released an exclamation-laden defense of Saudi Arabia today, saying he stood by the kingdom regardless of whether Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Jamal Khashoggi's murder. Read the statement.
  2. The House Oversight Committee will investigate whether Ivanka Trump's use of a personal email account for official government business violated federal law. Go deeper.
  3. $20 million for former Toys "R" Us staffers: Private equity firms Bain Capital and KKR this morning announced the creation of a fund to compensate thousands of employees who lost their jobs when the retailer shut down. Go deeper.
  4. Amazon has tossed a bid into the ring for the 22 regional sports networks Disney is required to sell, CNBC reports.
  5. A judge has granted a restraining order against attorney Michael Avenatti, who is alleged to have dragged a woman by her arm across the floor of his Los Angeles home and shouted expletives at her, calling her "ungrateful." Go deeper.
3. 1 🥧 thing

It's no state secret that most canned pumpkin doesn't come from erstwhile jack-o'-lanterns, but instead the Dickinson pumpkin, which looks like a giant squash.

But these quotes to the WSJ are well worth the read.

“If you add enough molasses and brown sugar and nutmeg and cinnamon you can probably make cardboard taste like pumpkin pie."
— Judy Jernstedt, a plant sciences professor with the University of California, Davis
“I’m sure those butternut squash fans appreciate it, but they’re getting swindled if they want pumpkin... I hate squash... That’s the truth... I have never ever been the hip popular kid on the block."
— Pumpkin purist Katheryn Hanson, a competitive baker from Orlando

Grab a fork.

Mike Allen