Bear markets don't start when Russell 2000 hits new high: NYSE governor

Key Points
  • All three major indexes closed lower on Thursday. But analysts say this is not the start of a bear market.
  • The Russell 2000 hit new highs on Thursday while the yield curve continues to get steeper.
Closing Bell Exchange: We're going to be in a narrow trading range for a while

Stocks closed lower on Thursday as President Donald Trump confirmed that trade talks with China might not be successful. But Peter Costa, a governor at the New York Stock Exchange, said this is not the beginning of a bear market.

"You'll never see a bear market start with the Russell 2000 hitting an all-time high," Costa, president of NYSE trading firm Empire Executions, said on "Closing Bell" Thursday. "It's never happened. It will never happen."

In fact, the small-cap index closed at an all-time high of 1,625.29 on Thursday. The intraday level reached an all-time high of 1,627.32.

Another sign of the strong economy is the yield curve, said John Burke, owner and manager of Burke Financial. He pointed out that so far in May the yield curve, or the spread between long- and short-term interest rates, has increased.

"The stock market has never come to a halt when the yield curve is getting steeper," Burke said on "Closing Bell."

Still, Thursday's trading session was a disappointing one for market watchers. All three major indexes closed lower.

Some investors fear continued trade tensions may be the culprit.

But Barbara Doran, director and senior portfolio manager at Yorkbridge Wealth Partners, disagreed. "We're used to getting a lot of noise on the trade talks," she said on "Closing Bell."

Costa said the most likely outcome of the trade talks is "some sort of compromise."

"There are advisors that are going to be a lot more vocal and [telling Trump], 'Look, this could be extremely detrimental, not only to the Chinese economy but to the U.S. economy and the world economy,'" Costa said.

Still, Burke said investors, including his firm, are "most worried about" political factors influencing the market.

"It's not just China. Europe is upset about what we're doing with its steel tariffs there. And of course, we've got NAFTA too. All of these things are bad. And if we could just get them out of the news and settled ... then the market is going to go higher."