Rising volatility this year in stocks, bonds, currencies and commodities has left investors scrambling to figure out what’s going on.
Markets in Asia were again shaken Thursday morning, as shares in Hong Kong fell sharply when the market reopened after an extended holiday. The Hang Seng Index was down 4% in early trading. China’s main stock market in Shanghai remained closed for the Lunar New Year, prompting fears stocks could tumble when it reopens Monday as investors digest recent market events.
The drop in Asia followed the fourth consecutive day of losses for major indexes in the U.S. On Wednesday, federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen flagged risks to the economic outlook that could delay the central bank’s plans for raising interest rates.
As investors and analysts search for reasons for the global volatility, what seems plausible one day is quickly disqualified when the market veers in the other direction.
It wasn’t long ago that the plunge in oil prices seemed to be the biggest factor driving down equity indexes. But now the S&P 500 is down more this year than its energy subsector, both declines dwarfed by the plunge in financial shares.