US STOCKS-Wall St sinks; Gundlach says U.S. stock are in bear market

Wall Street drops 1 percent as health stocks weigh; Nasdaq erases 2018 gains
December 18, 2018
Armageddon on S&P 500, jolts below April ’18 lows, Wall Street sours 1%
December 19, 2018

US STOCKS-Wall St sinks; Gundlach says U.S. stock are in bear market

* DoubleLine’s Gundlach says U.S. stocks in bear market

* Gundlach says Fed should not raise rates; financials erase gains

* Health stocks hit by judge ruling Obamacare is unconstitutional

* Amazon, retailers drop on Britain’s ASOS profit warning

* Goldman hits two-year low on Malaysia charges in 1MDB probe

* Indexes down: Dow 1.04 pct, S&P 1.09 pct, Nasdaq 1.08 pct (Adds comment, updates prices to afternoon)

By Amy Caren Daniel

Dec 17 (Reuters) – Wall Street slid 1 percent on Monday, weighed down by retailers and health stocks and after DoubleLine’s Jeffrey Gundlach said U.S. equities are in a long-term bear market and that the Federal Reserve should not raise rates this week.

Gundlach, Chief Executive Officer of DoubleLine Capital and known on Wall Street as the Bond King, in comments made on CNBC also said that passive investing had reached “mania status” and will exacerbate market problems.

The comments pushed U.S. equities back to session lows and killed off an attempted recovery.

“He (Gundlach) is not exactly painting a sunny picture for 2019,” said Kim Forrest, senior portfolio manager at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

After Gundlach’s comments, the S&P financial index gave up earlier gains to trade flat. It was the best performing among the 11 major S&P sectors. Banks, however, held on to gains of 0.25 percent.

Gundlach said the Fed should not raise rates this week, as is widely expected, after already changing messaging on rate hikes to stabilize stocks. Earlier, President Donald Trump criticized the Fed for “even considering” another hike.

Retail stocks tumbled 2.20 percent after British online fashion retailer ASOS’s profit warning led to concerns over consumer spending. Inc sank 3.3 percent and was the biggest drag on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

“Because of the profit warning, there is an overall question of holiday spending” in the United States, said Forrest.

The S&P healthcare index dropped 1.34 percent after a federal judge on Friday ruled that the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, was unconstitutional based on its mandate requiring people buy health insurance.

All the 11 major S&P sectors were lower. Monday’s swings are the latest example of volatility that has plagued U.S. stocks for most of this month amid worries about slowing global growth.

“I still think there are just too many worries out there and the biggest worry is that global economy is slipping,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

“Growth is slowing means earnings are going to slow. We are okay in this quarter and the first quarter of 2019, but after that I think earnings is going to be a problem for the market.”

At 1:28 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 250.02 points, or 1.04 percent, at 23,850.49, the S&P 500 was down 28.31 points, or 1.09 percent, at 2,571.64 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 74.68 points, or 1.08 percent, at 6,835.98.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc dropped 1.8 percent to a two-year low after Malaysia filed criminal charges against the bank and two former employees related to the 1MDB investigation. The stock is now the worst performer among Dow Industrials this year.

Insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc fell 1.3 percent on the Obamacare ruling and was the biggest drag on the Dow.

Johnson & Johnson continued its slide with a 3.6-percent drop after a Reuters report that the pharma major knew for decades that its Baby Powder contained asbestos.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 3.06-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.07-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P recorded one new 52-week highs and 100 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded seven new highs and 432 new lows. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru)