The Latest: Goldman says weak profits to doom bull market

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the action in the financial markets (all times local):

11:40 a.m.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs predict the longest-ever bull market for stocks will soon end, citing expectations of weaker company profits this year.

The analysts lowered their 2020 earnings forecast for S&P 500 companies Wednesday for the second time in less than two weeks.

They now expect profits will be down 5% from 2019. The analysts believe the sharp slide in oil prices and interest rates will hinder profit growth for energy companies and banks. The price of U.S. benchmark oil is down 45% so far this year, while the yield on the 10-year Treasury has dropped to around 0.8% percent from 1.9% at the start of 2020.

Goldman notes that companies in other sectors are also likely to report weaker profits this year. Many companies, such as Hilton and United Airlines, have already lowered or withdrawn their 2020 earnings guidance.

The analysts’ forecast calls for the S&P 500 to be at 2,450 points by midyear, which would mark a 28% decline from the peak in February. At 11:30 a.m. EST Wednesday, the index was down 3.8% to 2,771 amid volatile trading on Wall Street. The current bull market began in March 2009.


11:25 a.m.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that a top priority for the Trump administration is to provide support for businesses that have been adversely affected by disruptions from the virus.

Testifying before a House Appropriations subcommittee, Mnuchin said the administration was looking to increase lending by the Small Business Administration “dramatically” to help small and medium-sized business.

Mnuchin said the administration was also exploring ways to provide support to airlines, cruise ship lines, hotels and other businesses in the travel industry that have been hurt by a sharp drop in travel. Those industries have been among the biggest losers in the recent sell-off on Wall Street.

He said the administration was also working with Congress to find ways to reimburse workers who lose days off work because they are sick or are staying home to self-quarantine.

The stock market is waiting to hear details of the administration’s plan to shore up the economy in the face of the threat from the virus. The lack of a formal plan is contributing to the wild swings on Wall Street this week.


10:35 a.m.

There’s no end in sight to the turbulence in the stock market.

Investors were experiencing the latest twist Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 900 points, or 3.7%, after an hour of trading. That follows the biggest loss since 2008 on Monday and a significant rebound Tuesday.

If the Dow closes with a loss of 1,000 points — or a gain given the dramatic intraday moves the market has seen — it would be the seventh such move since the stocks hit their most recent high on Feb. 19. Before then, the Dow had only rose or fell 1,000 points three other times in history, all in 2018.

Granted, swings of 1,000 points aren’t as dramatic given the high levels of the market. The biggest percentage move in the Dow remains the 22.6% drop on Black Monday in 1987. As far as points go, the move was just 508.

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