S&P 500 Tumbles as Investors Anticipate Powell’s Move

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The U.S. stock market appears to be on shaky ground as we enter the final quarter of 2023. The S&P 500, one of the most widely followed indices, has slipped to the bottom of its bullish trading channel. This drop is not a mere blip as the index has been in a slump throughout the month, says Bespoke Investment Group. With the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting culminating on Wednesday, investors and traders are holding their collective breath, awaiting the outcome and its potential impact on the market.

Adding to the anxiety, the S&P 500 has entered what has historically been its "weakest 10-day period of the year", according to a recent note by BofA Global Research. Despite a dip of 1.4% in September, the index has managed to maintain an annual gain of 15.7%, as per FactSet data. However, the U.S. stock benchmark is teetering on the edge of consecutive monthly losses, following a strong performance streak that lasted until July this year. As we delve deeper into the data, we find that the weak patterns are primarily emerging in sectors such as consumer staples and healthcare.

S&P 500 Navigates Challenges Amid Market Uncertainty

S&P 500 Struggles Amid Volatile Trading Conditions

U.S. stocks have demonstrated an overall upward trend in 2023, yet the S&P 500 finds itself at the bottom of its bullish trading channel, as it has experienced a significant slump throughout the month. This observation comes from Bespoke Investment Group, noting the index’s struggles despite an overall positive stock market performance. On Tuesday, the S&P 500 closed 0.2% lower at 4,443.95, with traders eagerly anticipating the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting concluding on Wednesday.

A Troubling Trend and Weak Market Performance

Bespoke notes that the S&P 500 is currently at the bottom of its uptrend channel and beneath its 50-day moving average. This situation is further complicated by the fact that the S&P 500 has entered what BofA Global Research refers to as the “weakest 10-day period of the year” historically. This period, the last ten days of September, began on the 18th of the month. Throughout September, the S&P 500 has dropped 1.4%, but still retains a 15.7% gain for the year according to FactSet data. Despite strong performance up until July, the index is now on track for consecutive monthly losses.

Sector-Wise Performance: Winners and Losers

Bespoke’s analysis highlights that stocks across several sectors, namely consumer staples and healthcare, are either breaking down or failing at crucial resistance levels. Conversely, the energy and financial sectors, insurance stocks in particular, are showing substantial strength. Despite the overall fall of the S&P 500 in September, the benchmark’s energy sector has risen 3.4% this month, fueled by a substantial increase in oil prices.

Inflation and The Federal Reserve’s Role

The rise in oil prices contributed to an inflation increase in August, with the consumer-price index rising 0.6% last month, marking a year-over-year rate of 3.7%. This pace is up from the 3.2% in the year through July. All eyes are now on Fed Chair Jerome Powell, who is set to hold a press conference following the central bank’s policy meeting. Investors will be keenly observing for any indications about the duration the Fed might maintain elevated interest rates in its quest to bring inflation down to its 2% target.


The S&P 500’s recent struggles underscore the volatility and unpredictability of the market, even amid overall positive trends. This scenario demonstrates the importance of diversification and careful sector selection in investment strategies. Furthermore, the Federal Reserve’s upcoming decisions will undoubtedly impact the market’s trajectory, highlighting the critical role of central banks in economic stability. The current market conditions present both challenges and opportunities for investors, calling for careful monitoring and strategic decision-making.

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