On July 19th, The S&P 500 fell as much as 2 percent and was on pace for its worst drop since mid-May. The Stoxx Europe 600 dropped 2.3 percent, its worst decline this year. In Hong Kong and Japan major indexes had ended the day with a loss of more than 1 percent. In a reversal of the reopening trade that has powered this year’s equity rally, cyclical industries bore the brunt of the selloff. Commodity, financial and industrial shares led losses in the S&P 500. The economic concerns stem from the surging Covid-19 delta variant infections which led to the return of restrictions on travel and tourism.
There was already recovery concerns based on the rising consumer prices but inflation was expected to decline as the economy worked through a volatile reopening period. Those recovery projections have become less rosy amid concerns that economic growth has peaked. Though others pointed to the usual volatility that comes with earnings season and thin summer trading.
On top of Wall Street volatility, getting people back to work remains a significant challenge due in part to concerns over Covid-19. The surging delta variant only exacerbates that and pushes the timeline of full-time office commuting back further (if that even returns at all). On the plus side, the US is seeing a manufacturing boom which will stabilize supply chains and pump localized economies. Alleviating supply chain shortages will help lower prices and improve consumer confidence, though if factories must shut down due to rising Covid-19 infections shortages will be prolonged.
So, really what we have is a mixed bag as we await moving further past the pandemic. There is plenty of optimism that we are experiencing a temporary rough patch based on a variety of factors. But until we are through it, consumers and small businesses must navigate a delicate situation.