A listless summer for the stock market is coming to a very noisy end.
It didn't take long for the Standard & Poor's 500 index to break out of its narrow summertime trading range. It fell hard in just two days, dropping to a new low for the year.
Until last week, news around the world for investors had been worrisome, but the American stock market was mostly undisturbed. China devalued its currency, commodity prices collapsed and the Federal Reserve moved closer to raising interest rates. Yet, U.S. investors seem unbothered. Until they were. Friday was the worst day of selling since the financial crisis.
The week ahead will test the patience of investors. A quiet season of stock price action may be excusable for long-term owners. Deafness to the silence is not.
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The lack of conviction until last week built anticipation for ... well, something. We heard that something come Thursday and Friday loud and clear.
Historically, it's not uncommon for the S&P 500 to jump or fall 2 percent or more in a day. Going back more than a half century, it happens about every two months. Sometimes it happens two days in a row.
These kinds of moves are normal but investors have been lulled by how quiet the price action has been.