With overeseas stock markets taking one of their biggest tumbles in recent weeks, it looked like another fearsome Friday for US investors.
US stocks opened sharply lower, but failed to trigger NYSE circuit breakers—which would put a temporary half to trading, even though stock futures were limit down earlier in the day. By the end of the day, it was just another wild ride.
What's Going On
Here's how the market pros interpreted things as they unfolded.
"Right now the market's being driven by emotion," says David Lutz of Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets. "The buyers seemed to be awaiting a tidal wave of sellers. They never showed up".
John O'Donoghue of Cowen & Co. says trading is being driven by "the fear of the unknown," adding that the traditional buying and selling of stocks based on value was "out the window."
James Awad, managing director of Zephyr Management, says "we've surpassed the 1973-74 situation", when stocks were engulfed in a brutal bear market and an oil crisis gripped the US economy.
"You're seeing a significant ratcheting down of expectations for worldwide economic prospects, which means earnings estimates have to come down dramatically," says Awad. "You're getting a huge margin call."
Dennis Gartman, editor of The Gartman Letter, says hedge funds continue to dump stocks, as they try to balance positions and look to raise new capital from lenders.
David Kotok of Cumberland Advisers predicted today would be the "peak of liquidation" for institutions and "will run its course very soon."
Pimco's Co-CEO Mohamed El-Erian noted the "big-force redemption's" started Thursday and says the "repricing" is nearing an end along with the "massive deleveraging."
El-Erian pointed to improvement in the credit markets with "a lot of policy actions coming on stream."
What To DoGartman advice to investors is simple: If you haven't gotten out of the market yet, then don't sell today. "You probably can't get out now."Of course, those with cash might want to take heart and take advantage of things.falsefloat: left; margin-right: 10px;RLMC_relatedLInks300true20falsefalseRELATED LINKS/CNBC/Components/Art/common/arrow_3_pix_white.gif14600truehttp://msnbcmedia.msn.comfalse1PfalsefalsefalsefalsefalsefalsefalseDavid Garrity of GVA Research says "better opportunities than this" don't come around very often. He cites Microsoft page90MSFTfalsetrue12pricetruefalsefalsefalsefalse0QuotefalsetrueChartfalsetrueNewsfalsetrueProfilefalsetrueAdd to Watchlistfalsetruetruehttp://api-cdn.cnbc.com/api/chart/chart.aspGE4true3, which posted solid earnings this week, as a good example for bargain hunters.Kotok says his firm took its cash position to near zero Thursday and started buying bonds and stocks. (Watch the video.)
Sam Stovall of Standard & Poor's told clients in a note: "The equity markets are selling off with abandon, worried that a global slowdown will turn into a worldwide recession or worse. In a situation like this you can either sell and hide, or attempt to spot a likely bottom and use it to identify a rapidly approaching buying opportunity. With that in mind, what target do I see? 700 on the S&P." (Find out why.)
Ron Baron, of Baron Capital, says investors should take heart in history. "Long term stocks have done better than any other asset class."
Art Hogan, of Jefferies, who called a market bottom two Fridays ago, says today's action is a "retesting" of the bottom. which will precede a rebound.
Hogan says two sectors will respond the fastest: energy and technology.
Art Cashin, of UBS, was among those betting on a rebound, saying if a healthy bottom to the market is reached in the next few days, there will be "a jaw-dropping rally."
The Wall Street veteran also was able to take a big-picture view: "What happens over the next five to eight days will be spoken about for generations."