If you thought the reaction to yesterday's Fed commentary was overblown, don't read any further. Following up on a 1.4% loss yesterday, the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) dropped 40 points, or another 2.5%, today, ending at 1,588. It was the index's largest single-day loss since 2011. To be fair to the biggest losers of the day, they weren't alone in their misery; for every stock advancing there were nine that fell Thursday.
Understandably, homebuilders took a major hit today. The implication of the Fed's gradual tapering of quantitative easing efforts is higher rates in the long term, as the money supply stops expanding. Put simply, money will soon be harder to come by and, as lenders raise rates, it will become more difficult for homebuyers to finance real estate purchases. As a result, shares of residential construction giant PulteGroup (NYSE:PHM) shed 9.1%.
But PulteGroup was by no means the only business severely affected by the reaction to yesterday's Fed announcement. Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM), too, slumped 6.7%, and even hit a 52-week low during today's session. The company, which mines for gold and copper across the world, is highly dependent on the price of metals for its success. With gold slipping to 2-1/2-year lows, you can see why investors fled for the gates today. Gold, often used as a hedge for a declining dollar, often suffers as the dollar strengthens, as it did today.
Finally, Masco (NYSE:MAS) shares fell 6.1%. Masco, as a building materials supplier, faces the exact same dilemma as PulteGroup: its business outlook has materially declined in just a few days, as looming higher interest rates spell tougher times ahead for real estate. The stock has fallen more than 11% this week alone, with 9% of that decline coming in just the last two days.
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