How low can the market go?

A huge market sell-off raises new questions about support levels.

By Kim Peterson Aug 4, 2011 3:10PM

Updated at 4:40 p.m. ET


The market sell-off was in full force Thursday as investors found themselves unable to shake off fears about the economy and the possibility of another recession.


The Dow Jones Industrials ($INDU) plunged more than 500 points at the close, with the Nasdaq ($COMPX) falling 5% and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) also diving nearly 5%.


The day, coming after a difficult two-week span, again raised more questions about the long-term future of the stock market. And one question was foremost on everyone's mind: How low can we go?

August is traditionally a blah month for stocks, and there was an expectation that we'd head into the doldrums. But a plunge like this certainly disfigures the big picture, and on Thursday market observers were revising their forecasts for how low this thing could go.

Support for the S&P 500 fell through some key technical levels, with the index closing the session at 1,200.


Everything Friday will hinge on the July nonfarm payroll report, due out before the market opens. Analysts are expecting to see 85,000 net positions filled and an unemployment rate stuck at 9.2%. Any variation from that in either direction should elicit a dramatic response from the market. And if that payroll number happens to be negative? Well, that's when sobbing in a fetal position seems like a good idea.

Sounds like Wall Street is expecting bad news, and certainly some of those worries factored into Thursday's sell-off. July likely wasn't a great month for hiring, particularly with the high-profile Congressional angst surrounding the debt ceiling.

"There's a change in tone out there," RBS economist Michelle Girard told CNBC. "I'm more concerned about the outlook now than I was at any point since we emerged from recession. It's not near where I think we're going to double dip, but I would say to people that I'm watchful for that."

Investors are discounting a new recession next year, writes David Callaway of MarketWatch. But then you have other pundits who think these lows have made the market oversold.

"For investors, it's important to remember that the stock market is a leading indicator, which means the last two weeks of pain was not so much tied to the U.S. debt talks as to discounting of some future economic calamity, likely a recession," Callaway adds. On the flip side, that also means the market will start rebounding before the economy does.

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117Comments
Aug 4, 2011 4:03PM
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How low can the market go?  How greedy is wall street.  As long as they can bleed off our 401s and retirement funds they will do so.  We do not have a government worth a **** that will attempt to do anything about it.
Aug 4, 2011 4:22PM
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The sheep have been led to the slaughter.  Our elected representatives bought  this hogwash and allowed us  to be swindled out of our defined benefit pensions for the con game that is a 401k.  Instead of sending taxes to a gov't plan, we send our 'contributions' to Wall Street where money professionals work around the clock figuring out ways to pilfer from lower middle class americans who now have 'skin' in the markets; reminiscent of 1929.....  Wall Street doesn't like policy, the markets respond with 'Booooo!' and we and our elected representatives run for cover, selling for pennies on the dollar as we try to escape....  The sharks drive us out of the water, eat the fish that we just caught, and then swim offshore and wait for the next feeding frenzy.   They know we'll be back - we have no place else to go.   You ask why there is no recovery?  HSBC nets 11.5 billion over 6 months and simultaneously announces 25,000 layoffs.     Don't give wall street what it wants, and thug rating agencies like Moody's threaten our credit rating....   when they got us into this mess with their mortgage backed securities rating scam.     And Congress is on vacation....
Aug 4, 2011 4:19PM
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Someone (Sailor 7) the problem is the government. How low can the market go is based on the optimism of the investors. Faith in the government and all its empty promises is what is now driving the stock market into the ground. Congress is owned by lobbyist and the President is a lost ball in high weeds. Economic confidence makes the market rise and lack thereof makes it fall, so where do you think the market is going.
Aug 4, 2011 5:35PM
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Yep, thought about it. Ok this is how IT IS. Simple, no abstract crap. No logistics or fancy self atoned excuses.

Bottom Line. Greed. An unbelievably out of control in the open corrupt government of 545 governing idiots.. whom got us in this mess and can't get us out.

No accountability citizens who are way in debt, uneducated, oversexed, overweight, uninformed, and apathetic about everything but their addiction to over eating comfort junk, couch potato sports, TV fantasy-land and all the steel, chrome, and plastic crap that out of control capitalist marketing has convinced them they absolutely can't live without. Justified  that everyone else does it to feel that they are a part of a great society  that's special..
From the greatest nation on earth to a decadent mess in 50 years.

Great job America.

We’ve  turned our backs on the principles that made us a great nation. We’re doing something our enemies never came close to accomplishing. Destroying the United States of America from within. We had better get into reality and become accountable. Instead of being defensive and excuse making.

The Divided States. Greedy, self serving, arrogant, don't care about anyone but ourselves.We all should be ashamed of our selves. I know I am.

 

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we have destroyed ourselves.” - Abraham Lincoln

Aug 4, 2011 6:37PM
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Fire the entire congress - worthless paid prostitutes.
Aug 4, 2011 4:50PM
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Obama and the liberal's economic policies make Jimmy Carter look like Albert Einstein.
Aug 4, 2011 4:52PM
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Welcome to the party boys. The party that's been going on for a year nor two now.

The middle and lower have been getting bent over for the last 2 years now. Don't feel so good does it?. And we're fixing to get it up the ol poopchute some more so get ready for some more. Fridays not even here yet.

Now lets see if the price at the pumps reflect that $85 a barrel oil since its down now $10 in about a week.

Aug 5, 2011 12:14AM
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The market is a predictor of the future.  Today's selloff was no surprise to me, the performance of the present administration has been disasterous at best.  No job growth, rampant spending and no understanding of basic economics.  I have lived through the great depression and the failed policies of FDR, and his pump priming crap.  Socialism and redistribution of wealth doesn't work.  The old Soviet Union is a classic example of social engineering.  Just who in the hell is going to pay for all of Obama's programs, the Federal Government doesn't produce a damn thing, they are taker.  Takers of the money of people who work and create jobs. They then spend it in a inefficient manner.  When they spend more than they take in, they print money. When they print money the value of the dollar become less and less.  The price of oil becomes more expensive because the dollar is worth less, not because George Bush controls the oil companies.  I am in the fall of my life, I am amazed at how stupid the average American has become.  You want security in your old age, save money, don't buy that new Harley or Motorhome or Boat.  Don't expect the government to make up for all of your indecreations.  The government's job is to provide an opportunity for all, not to make everyone equal. 
Aug 4, 2011 7:14PM
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The problem exists because we have a politcal class, who see politics not as a sevice to the country, but as a career. Politicians want to get elected, and want to stay in office once elected so they promise the world to get elected, and deliver the goods to stay in office. They've created entire segments of the population who feel entitled. Entitled to this, entitled to that. Whatever happened to the idea of working hard and saving to achieve your goals? Whatever happened to the idea of studying hard and applying yourself to improve your future yourself? Whatever happened to individual responsibitlity?

A friend who was in Russia years ago told me that people there told him they were slacking off because they got the same as if they were working hard, so why should they work hard? Handouts kill incentive. Why put yourself out to get the same result as the guy who just lies around? We need to wean people off the handouts. Germany did it. They were about where we were, and they turned it around. They cut welfare and unemployment benefits at the same time requiring people to work parttime to receive benefits, and giving businesses incentives to hire and retrain. That eased people back into the workforce whose job skills had gotten rusty, and started counteracting the unintended consequences of welfare's destruction of family values. Here in NE Pa, we're having a drilling boom and the nat gas companies are hiring, and training people for the best paying jobs around, with lifetime careers. But guess what? Many of the people here on unemployment and welfare don't want those jobs! So the nat gas companies are hiring nationwide and thousands of people from other states are coming here to take those jobs! Even apartment complexes are being built to house all these newcomers. If our local recipients of unemployment had run out of benefits maybe they'd be more inclined to get off their butts and apply for the jobs, And don't even get me started on welfare. Here we have an industry offering thousands of top paying jobs that they'll train you for and people would rather collect welfare....

 

To stop the growth of entitlements we need to set strict term limits, say 4 years, for all federal government elected positions. We didn't have term limits for presidents originally, it took a crisis for Congress to set a two term limit for presidents. But can Congress set a limit on itself? 

Aug 4, 2011 5:02PM
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Ken101a,  I asked this earlier today in another post.  Can u explain why ur Savoir has been in office for 3 yrs know & has Democratic control the first 2 yrs & hasn't done a dam thing but put us deeper in debt.
Aug 4, 2011 4:12PM
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How low, probably to the level of the government. The bottom!

Aug 4, 2011 4:29PM
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Happy Birthday OBOZO from the investment community!!!!!
Aug 5, 2011 6:14AM
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 The real question should be,"How long can America survive given the present leadership"?
Aug 4, 2011 6:37PM
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It is very telling and interesting, the blame squarely ((lies)) with the political elite. The interesting part about the market and the US debt ratio is one of pure greed by the Corporate bankers and interest groups. Wealth lasts forever, being rich can fade over night. The global economies have secret meetings to strain the control of the people who pay for their life styles. Its amazing how we can send people and technology into space, but cant find a solution to bring back American made products and jobs to the people that pay the most in low wage. This is a huge problem for all us, Americans are getting tired of working for nothing just to pay for services that are being outsourced. I for one believe in history repeating itself. There will be a day were American Tax payers and voters stop paying and start taking. Boston Tea party, American revolutions, civil wars. History will repeat if we the people keep voting those who have their own agendas in office.  
Aug 4, 2011 4:17PM
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SELL,SELL,SELL, THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF A VERY BUMPY RIDE. IN THE LAST WEEK OR SO. THE SOOTH SAYERS SAY BUY SELL STOCKS BUY SELL GOLD AND SILVER.  DO YOU GET MY POINT. THINGS SUCK. 20+ MILLION UNEMPLOYED WITH THOUSANDS TO COME. ALMOST 50 MILLION ON FOOD STAMPS. WHERE DO THESE SOOTH SAYERS GET THERE INFO BETTER YET FOLLOW THE MONEY. WHO PAYS THEM. GOLD AND SILVER WILL BE THE PLACE TO BE DURING THIS TIME. THE INDIVIDUAL INVESTOR IS GONE. THE CONSUMER IS GONE. THE JOBS ARE GONE. THE END OF AMERICA IS HERE NOW. NASA LAYING OFF 10,000, HSBC LAYING OFF13,000 WORLD WIDE. THIS IS GLOBAL WE ARE ALL CONNECTED. I HAVE TO LAUGH STILL 400,000+ UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS A MONTH AND WHEN IT GOES DOWN A 1000 OR SO THE SOOTH SAYS GET ALL EXCITED LIKE THAT MEANS SOMETHING. THEN MONTHS LATER WE FIND THE BOOKS WERE COOKED AND THEY REVISE THAT AMOUNT. 2ND Q GNP MAYBE 1.3 DON'T FORGET INFLATION NOW. THE SOONER YOU FACE THE FACTS THE BETTER OFF WE WILL ALL BE. DEPRESSION II IS HERE.
Aug 4, 2011 7:32PM
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Delmar Fair....

With 1000% certainty... Recalling a conversation I had with my Great Grandfather... He said back in his day he filed his income taxes on a 5X7 card. The American wage was higher because of the cost of living. However, Delmar,, When we ended wwII America had all of the consumer goods from tech to mech,,, It wasn't until the late 60's and 70's did we venture in outsourcing goods. We paid less in trade agreements and tariffs for exporting goods. Through systematic Unions and labor political party practices, an over night rush and surge of American companies closing their doors for the bottom line of investing in lower wage workers and offering no benefits. Corporations got smart and began a non profit movement in order to avoid the almighty tax. If you do the research you will find,,

 Each of the Corporations move on to other Countries, once the labor rights of workers have changed for better pay and benefits. My comments about American made goods, remember that when you have a product made in China that lasts about a month or less.     

Aug 4, 2011 9:48PM
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I wonder how many greedy bastards, I mean (including politicians) stayed up late last night speaking with their financial advisor on selling off stocks and investments before the market opened? Insider information is better than buying useless gold futures. Earlier on the internet, I listened to an audio recording of a Company telling its stakeholders to sell before the market crashes.

I wonder how many bastards are talking with their financial advisor right now to buy stocks at their lowest and lost value to screw the rest of us and our 401k. Sleep tight you bastards, some of us remember those other bastards ---Enron, etc... ****ushima 

  

Aug 4, 2011 4:55PM
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The correction was due the market for the past month or so has had no legs with one worry after another effecting it. The average investor has mixed feelings and a lowered confidence with the economy.  I would  look out for continued bad news dragging the market down,  than a buying  opportunity will present itself.

 

Maybe dow 10,000

Aug 4, 2011 4:50PM
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All my life I have always had the idea that what goes around will eventually come around'

Until prices decrease or wages catch up with prices there will be more bad news to come.

Human nature has always been dont buy something high priced unless  you really need it.

and consumers have been goulged to no end. We have reached a time that millions of people

are just getting buy.

I have already sent Santa his pink slip and I know that I am not the only one.

In my opinion by year end big stores like Wal Mart will be singing the blues and I would almost bet

I am right.

Aug 4, 2011 6:29PM
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It amazes me to see how much anger most of you have for your "fellow Americans".  Hate Obama, hate the rich, hate the poor, hate the Dems, hate the GOP, hate the left, hate the right.  They're all wrong and stupid and you can identify the problem and present the solution to fix it in 21 days - all in one short paragraph.  It seems the only thing that binds us as groups is a common hatred for someone or something else.  We need to have the extraterrestrials come so we can all come together and hate them more than each other.    
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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market capped the trading week with losses across the major averages. The S&P 500 fell 0.5% to surrender its weekly gain, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.7%) and Russell 2000 (-0.9%) underperformed. The two indices posted respective losses of 0.8% and 0.6% for the week.

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