Somebody cue the stock market’s park ranger: Bears are having a picnic on Wall Street this year.
The meltdown of 2022 has wiped out more than $7 trillion in market value from the blue chip stocks in the S&P 500. The index is down nearly 18% since the end of December. The S&P 500 is now barely above bear market levels (i.e. a 20% decline from a recent closing high) following a 0.1% drop Thursday.
The Dow, which fell about 104 points, or 0.3%, Thursday, is down more than 13% this year as well.
Tech stocks have been hit particularly hard. The Nasdaq did manage to eke out a slight gain Thursday but it has plunged 27% this year, putting it deep into bear market territory. Nearly $3 trillion of the S&P 500’s market cap drop is from the tech sector.
Shares of tech leaders Apple (), Microsoft ( ), Amazon ( ), Google owner Alphabet( ), Facebook parent Meta Platforms ( ) and Elon Musk’s Tesla ( ) are all deeply in red. Netflix ( ), down more than 70%, is the worst performer in the S&P 500 this year.
The rapid plunge is raising alarm bells on Main Street too, with worries that the US economy may be losing steam following a strong recovery from the depths of the brief pandemic-induced recession.
According to data from research firm Bespoke Investment Group, the Nasdaq has plummeted more than 20% in the past 30 trading days. A drop of that magnitude has only happened 11 times before — and nine of those declines were “associated with recessions,” according to Bespoke.
Bespoke analysts said in another report earlier this week that the Nasdaq 100, or so-called QQQs, is off to the worst start for any year, ever.
Still, there are hopes that a bottom may soon be in sight. Bespoke analysts said that “prices can remain oversold … for an extended period of time, but they don’t stay that way forever.”
Investors are waiting for so-called capitulation, the moment where it seems like everyone has finally thrown in the proverbial towel. When sentiment is seemingly at its lowest, that might be time to finally start buying again.
The market might almost be at those levels. The CNN Business Fear & Greed Index, which measures seven indicators of market sentiment, is now well into Extreme Fear territory. The index goes from 0-100 and lower levels are associated with panic in the market. The index is currently registering a level of 6.