So long, Dow 22,000. Stocks took a hit for a third straight day Thursday as North Korea’s nuclear threats seemed again to roil the markets.
The Dow fell more than 200 points, a nearly 1% drop, and its biggest dip in three months. Only 3 of the 30 stocks in the Dow finished the day with a gain: IBM(Tech30), , Coca-Cola( and )McDonald’s(. )
But are investors really nervous about a possible military conflict with Kim Jong Un? Or are people using these geopolitical concerns as an excuse to take money out of the market — tech stocks in particular?
However these stocks — along with tech giants Microsoft(Tech30) and , Alphabet(Tech30), Google’s parent — have been among the top performers all year. Apple is still up 35% for 2017 and hovers near a record high. ,
Nvidia soared 55% this year after notching the biggest gains in the S&P 500 in 2016. (Nvidia bounced back in after hours trading though following a strong earnings report that topped Wall Street’s forecasts.)
It makes sense that investors would start to cut their positions in some of their winners and look for other investments that might be better bets for a rockier period for the markets and global economy.
To that end, gold prices shot up to near $1,300 an ounce — their highest level in several months.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond fell to 2.2% and is approaching its lowest level of the year. That is significant because yields fall when bond prices rise.
In other words, investors are dumping stocks and buying bonds, which many view as a safe haven in times of turmoil.
Defense companies look like a safe bet. Lockheed Martin(, )Northrop Grumman(, )Raytheon( and )L3 Technologies( hit record highs for a second straight day. The strong performance of these companies is clearly related to the North Korea drama. )
But in some respects, investors do seem more scared.
The VIX(, a measure of Wall Street volatility, spiked more than 30% Thursday. )CNNMoney’s Fear & Greed Index, which looks at the VIX and six other gauges of market sentiment,tipped toward Fear.
The index was showing signs of Greed just two days ago while the Dow was in the midst of a winning streak that included nine straight record highs.
Still, the market has had several fits and starts over the past few months.
The Dow fell for eight straight days back in March. That was the longest losing streak since 2011. But the market quickly bounced back, led by many of the tech stocks that were sinking on Thursday.
So it looks like the new normal on Wall Street might be a return of volatility.
Investors are no longer ignoring headlines — and their mood may turn on a dime.