Tech Troubles, Emerging Meltdown Lifts Volatility


Volatility’s on the rise again today, especially for tech stocks and emerging markets.

A combination of political risk, currency anxiety and simple buyer exhaustion seem to be triggering the move.

The political risk is happening on Capitol Hill as major e-commerce executives answer questions about their role in elections. Facebook (FB), Alphabet (GOOGL) and Twitter (TWTR) are the key names to watch. As a side note, ailing social-media company Snap (SNAP) is burrowing to new lows… even without the political spotlight.

The foreign-exchange currency story involves emerging markets like India and Indonesia, whose currencies continue to fall against the U.S. dollar. More fuel was added to that fire yesterday by the Institute for Supply Management’s extremely positive manufacturing report. Chinese economic data overnight also missed estimates, which also drives the narrative of global weakness and domestic strength.

But other parts of the market are pretty calm. To illustrate the dichotomy of sentiment in the market, consider that the volatility index for the tech-heavy Nasdaq index ($VXN.X) is up 7 percent today. That’s almost twice as much as Cboe’s broader Volatility index ($VIX.X), tracking the S&P 500.

Digging deeper into the tech selling on RadarScreen, a few interesting trends emerge. First, Internet stocks and software companies are doing worst. Don’t forget that many of these software companies like Workday (WDAY) are simply getting sold after huge run-ups into earnings.

Secondly, on a brighter note, the Market Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH) is down less than half a percent and continues to challenge a key resistance level. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is still leading the charge as analysts see it benefiting from problems at rival Intel (INTC).

Another area that potentially stands out are the Industrials as blue chips like Caterpillar (CAT) and Deere (DE) muscle higher. Transports are pushing higher as well.

It’s also noteworthy that some of the retailers that fared best last earnings season are also advancing. In particular, Target (TGT), Nordstrom (JWN) and Dollar General (DG).

In conclusion, it’s a pretty quiet session as people remain away from their desks because of Labor Day. But there are some signs of rotation into new areas as some of the big e-commerce names come under pressure.

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David Russell is Global Head of Market Strategy at TradeStation. Drawing on nearly two decades of experience as a financial journalist and analyst, his background includes equities, emerging markets, fixed-income and derivatives. He previously worked at Bloomberg News, CNBC and E*TRADE Financial. Russell systematically reviews countless global financial headlines and indicators in search of broad tradable trends that present opportunities repeatedly over time. Customers can expect him to keep them appraised of sector leadership, relative strength and the big stories – especially those overlooked by other commentators. He’s also a big fan of generating leverage with options to limit capital at risk.