The stock market staggered to sizable losses in soft volume late Friday morning. In the meantime, jobs added in November fell short of the mark, and a key market leader gapped down in huge volume.
Small caps lost 0.6% in the Russell 2000 gauge, while the Nasdaq posted a 1.8% loss. The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 both sagged around 1.6%.
Volume was running sharply lower vs. the same time Thursday on both major exchanges.
Ulta Beauty (ULTA) added to the bearish tone. The stock reported fiscal Q3 results after Thursday’s close. The company’s earnings and sales were roughly in line with views. But Ulta offered fiscal Q4 estimates that were weaker than expected.
Stock Market Leader Trips
Ulta gapped down about 8% at Friday’s open and then grew the loss to 10%.
When the stock market signaled Nov. 7 that a new uptrend was underway, Ulta broke out the next day in volume 78% above average. This is often the characteristic of a market leader. Ulta rose 11% in less than two weeks, and things looked promising. But the Market Pulse switched to correction Nov. 20 and Ulta struggled over the next few weeks.
When the market delivered a second bullish signal Nov. 28, Ulta was in its 5% buy zone. The bulls were hoping that Ulta could lead on a second try. But IBD’s Market Pulse turned to under pressure Tuesday. Ulta has struggled, losing its 50-day line. The stock is now about 18% off its high.
The troubled action of highly rated stocks such as Ulta is a bad sign for the current uptrend.
News, oil prices and fears surrounding the yield curve have driven the market’s difficulties recently. The Brexit mess, President Trump’s tariffs and the crash in oil prices have made things tough for the bulls.
Crude Oil Prices Up
Trump has argued that OPEC should lower prices, but low oil prices aren’t necessarily good news for the economy. The ideal is a price range that lets oil companies make money and employ oil workers without being high enough to discourage consumer spending.
The yield curve in interest rates have stoked fears of a recession. But some market researchers say the fears are overblown. Research shows that in the past five recessions, the S&P 500 didn’t peak until 19 months after the inversion. Gains on average were 22% to the market peak after the inversion.
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