Wall Street has been waiting for a year-end rally, but some strategists say it's more likely the market will see more selling before staging a real comeback.
Investors have been counting on the fact that midterm election years are often good for the stock market in the final months of the year. However, this year's October sell-off has extended well past the election and into November.
"The market's going to want a little more clarity around the issues we've been talking about — trade, global growth and what are the expectations for the Fed. I think it's going to be dependent on those types of things rather than that it's after the midterm election," said David Lefkowitz, senior Americas equity strategist at UBS Global Wealth Management.
Stocks were battered again on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 205 points and sliding below its 200-day moving average, a key momentum indicator that can signal a trend change. However, the Dow did recover from a dip below 25,000, an important psychological level, and ended the day at 25,080. The S&P 500, already below its 200-day moving average, slid under the key 2,700 level but was able to hold above it to close at 2,701.
"I still think there's a good chance stocks will find their footing .... If we get some indication that China and the U.S. are trying to find some common ground, I think the markets would take that very well, and we could see a nice rally at that point," he said. President Donald Trump is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit at the end of the month, and there is some expectation that the meeting could help change the tone of trade friction between the U.S. and China.
"I don't think we'll get any sweeping agreement at the G-20. I think it's going to be more incremental than anything else, but even that would be enough to give investors a little more confidence," Lefkowitz said.
"Right now, it looks like no one is in a rush. Everything's broken. Every rally's being sold," said Scott Redler, partner with T3Live.com. "Until that trend changes where rallies aren't sold and lower highs turn into higher highs, traders are going to sit back."
Ari Wald, technical analyst at Oppenheimer, said he sees the damage to Apple as temporary and its chart still looks strong, but he's worried about other areas of the market, such as energy. "[Apple's] been the latest to correct. It had been holding up better. It weakened considerably in the last few weeks. When the leadership area catches a cold, the real weak areas of the market catch a full-blown flu," said Wald. "Tech is still fine for the longer term, after a terrific run."
"I think investors are a little more despondent on this pullback. I think this does set the stage, once we set a floor, that we can head to the upper end of what we see as this developing range," he said. "There's going to be a more tactical time to take a more cautious stand. If we do get the strength, as I expect, there's going to be some pretty big divergences, and that sets the stage for a bigger pullback in 2019. We are expecting a rally, but this is the point in the cycle where it could be focused in high-quality large caps."