U.S. stocks fell sharply on Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average slammed with a triple-digit drop, as investors braced for quarterly earnings that begin in earnest this week.
"One driver is we're off to a mixed start to the earnings season; negative preannouncements exceed positive by a record 10-to-1 margin, so the bar has been set very low," said Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth Management.
Stocks declined to session lows after a speech Monday afternoon by Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart, in which he said that if all goes as expected, the central bank would continue to taper its monthly bond purchases known as quantitative easing.
Equities had been "drifting lower, then Fed comments provided an extra leg down," said Dan Greenhaus, chief market strategist at BTIG. But, "stocks have been trading poorly for a couple of days now in front of earnings," with some people looking to corporate results to justify last year's performance, which had the S&P 500 rising more than 29 percent," Greenhaus added.
Calling S&P 500 valuation lofty by nearly any measure, Goldman said stocks could be primed for a pullback.
Apart from some major event, a rise in interest rates "in an accelerated manner" rather than a controlled one could spark a market correction of 10 percent, said Tim Speiss, a vice president at EisnerAmper Wealth Planning, who added that he was not forecasting such an event.