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Markets battered on trade early in fourth quarter

The components of the S&P 500 have had a rough start to the fourth quarter after reaching its most recent high on Sept. 20. Up to that date, the index had gained 11.16% on a total-return basis since the start of 2018, and 8.3% quarter-to-date. Since Sept. 20’s high, the index has fallen 6.8%, 5.4% of which was in the week of Oct. 8. The declines were primarily pegged to the potential impact of what a trade war between the U.S. and China would do to the global economy but might also be underlined by the overall skittishness of U.S. investors.

The average return of an S&P company was 6.3% in the third quarter up to Sept. 20’s high, but -7.7% thereafter. Returns among the index members were more dispersed during the third quarter until Sept. 20, with a standard deviation of 11%; that number declined to 5.3% in the period since the peak, suggesting more uniformity in valuation changes.

As of publication, the index had recovered Friday morning by about 170 basis points.