While a season of strong corporate earnings has powered stocks to record highs, investors are increasingly focusing on a cluster of issues that threaten to derail those rallies.
Many are worried about coming negotiations to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, an event that has roiled markets in previous years. A failure to raise the U.S. debt limit in a “timely manner” would prompt areview of the country’s credit rating, which now stands at the highest possible level, Fitch Ratings said Wednesday.
Others are nervous over a monthslong run of uneven U.S. economic data, which some are concerned could eventually drag down corporate earnings. Recent reports have shown some metrics, such as employment, holding strong while manufacturing falters and auto demand posts steep declines.
A stock market rally that hasn’t had a significant pullback in 19 months has amplified concerns that any correction could be swift and sharp, especially with valuations for many sectors near historic highs.
The worries have boosted prices for gold, a favorite destination for nervous investors who believe the metal will hold its value better than other assets when markets turn rocky.
Gold for August delivery is up 12.1% this year to $1,288.90 a troy ounce, while the S&P has risen 9.2%. Other indicators of investor anxiety, such as the Japanese yen, Swiss franc and CBOE Volatility Index have also risen in recent weeks.