Stock Market Selloff is ‘Overdone’ and Could Rebound on Buybacks, Goldman Says

October 29, 2018, 11:56 PM UTC

With the S&P 500 Index down 9.7% since Oct. 3, Goldman Sachs weighed in to assure rattled investors that things may not be as bad as the last month of market turbulence makes it seem.

The October selloff in U.S. stocks has left the market “oversold,” wrote Goldman chief U.S. equity strategist David Kostin in a note to clients. What’s more, help is on the way in the form of corporate buybacks, he wrote.

“The recent sell-off has priced too sharp of a near-term growth slowdown,” Kostin’s note read. “We expect continued economic and earnings growth will support a rebound in the S&P 500.”

Stocks have tumbled this month on concern about rising interest rates, which not only make borrowing more expensive for companies, but also make bonds more competitive investments to stocks. The benchmark 10-year treasury yield has risen to 3.076% Tuesday from 1.321% in July 2016.

In addition to the S&P 500’s 9.7% decline, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 8.9% and the Nasdaq Composite is down 12.1% since Oct. 3.

Investors are also worried about the impact of a trade war between the U.S. and China, which showed signs of escalating even further Monday on reports that President Trump may impose a new round of tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports if trade talks next month between the U.S. and China don’t ease the trade war.

Kostin acknowledged that there are concerns about the U.S. economy in the next few years, but not enough to warrant such an abrupt decline in stock prices. He forecast the S&P 500 would close the year at 2850, an 8% gain from the index’s close on Monday.

One traditional pillar of support for stocks may have been missing for much of this month. Goldman noted that a “blackout” period during which companies avoid share repurchases in the two weeks before reporting earnings coincided with the selloff. Kostin said that nearly half of S&P 500 companies are out of those blackout phases, which could lead to $170 billion in buybacks in the next month.

Buybacks were expected to rise in 2018 because of the extra money that Trump’s tax cuts left in corporate coffers. But that hasn’t helped lift companies buying back shares. Two ETFs that focus on companies aggressive about buybacks—the SPDR S&P 500 Buyback ETF and the Invesco BuyBack Achievers ETF—have both underperformed the S&P 500 Index this year.