U.S. stocks continued a week-long slump late in the trading session on Friday as the S&P broke below the 2,000 level, closing at 1973.78 and the Dow slipped closer toward correction territory, closing off more than a 1000 points for the week, as fears of a China-led global slowdown shocked the markets.
This sell-off has been broad based, with all 10 major S&P sectors in the red, with the energy sector one of the worst performers as U.S. crude oil (CLc1) dipped below $40 a barrel for the first time since the 2009 financial crisis. Eight of the 10 sectors were down more than 1 percent. The S&P energy index (.SPNY) dropped 2.6 percent. Across the board, financial news has turned. Complicating an already difficult outlook is the fact that many investors anticipate the U.S. central bank to begin to raise interest rates by the end of the year although expectations for a September hike were tempered after the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July meeting on Wednesday.
Both the Dow and S&P were on track for their biggest weekly percentage drop since September 2011, while the Nasdaq was on pace for its biggest percentage fall since August 2011. Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,391 to 671, for a 3.56-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,682 issues fell and 1,119 advanced for a 1.50-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
Of course, the broader question is whether the end to the unprecedented 7 year bull market will reveal the same level of financial fraud and scandal that occurred from 2007-2008. Investors will recall that in the wake of the last financial downturn, investors were treated to an almost daily barrage of news regarding financial improprieties by the very institutions charged with protecting their money and investments. More often than not, during market corrections investors begin to ask their trusted financial professionals hard questions regarding the advice they received over the previous years and whether that financial advice was appropriate. Examples of broker misconduct include churning (the purchase and sale of investments for the purpose of generating broker-dealer commissions), overconcentration in a single security or market sector (eg., energy sector or technology stocks), the sale of unsuitable securities in light of an investors risk tolerance and financial profile, and of course, outright fraud. Not all losses are the result of broker misconduct. Most are simply “market losses.” However, every investor should closely monitor their accounts and seeks advice to ensure that their losses are not the result of misconduct.
Rob Linkin is a partner at Duggins Wren Mann & Romero, LLP, a full-service law firm located in Austin, Texas. Rob represents investors and victims of investment fraud. If you believe you have suffered losses as a result of broker misconduct, please contact Rob Linkin at (512) 744-9300 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.