The S&P 500 Just Did Something It Hasn’t Done Since 2018, And Guess What? It Wasn’t Good

The S&P 500 Index notched its sixth-straight day in the red on Wednesday. That’s the second six-plus day losing streak this year and the second such stretch in just over two weeks.

Before this year, the last time the index registered this many losing days in a row was in February 2020, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in the U.S. And it’s the first time since 2018 that the S&P 500 has experienced two droughts of six days or more in the same calendar year. Over the last 20 years, the benchmark has only pulled off the unwelcome feat 15 times.

The only year in the last two decades to record three or more similar spells was 2011, when the European debt crisis was at its peak. This time, war, lingering patches of Covid, an uncertain energy supply, a hawkish Federal Reserve, mounting fears of a recession and an unfolding monetary crisis in the U.K., are to blame.

On the upside, the streak has hacked off less from the index than comparable stretches in the past. The 14 prior occurrences over the last two decades saw the S&P 500 fall by an average of 8%. This time, the benchmark has lost 6%.

Still, the losing streak has driven the S&P 500 to its lowest level since November 2020. The year-to-date loss now stands at 25%.

Two events this week could determine how long the dry spell lasts. Thursday will see the release of the September consumer price index report. And on Friday, third-quarter earnings season kicks off with four of the largest U.S. banks reporting.

Poor results could give the index the fuel to match the 9-day losing streak it tallied in 2016, when investors braced for that year’s contentious presidential election. Despite reaching the longest streak in nearly 36 years, at that time, the 2016 voyage into the doldrums only saw the index lose 3.1% of its value.

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