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Markets: Goodbye August, hello September

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Wall Street players like to say September is the worst month for stocks. If that’s true, we’re in for a tough time, given how bad August has been – it was the worst month on Wall Street in more than a year.

Today didn’t give us much hope for a high-performance September. What drove the markets down?

Not the data. US manufacturing was reported better than expected.

Was it a memo from Goldman Sachs? Today the Wall Street Journal printed a leaked document from GS in which the bank told its big money clients that the U.S. is in bad shape; Europe’s in worse shape, and China’s unsustainable.

Maybe it’s just that investors are in a state of what Wells Capital Management Chief Jim Paulsen calls “Armageddon Hypochondria.” He told us on the show today that this country’s in a crisis phobic zone, where everyone overreacts to small data points. He says the big drops in August were prompted by a belief – again based on a few data points – that we were headed into another recession. Just as fast, investors figured out that, no, we’re not headed into recession and started buying again.

So much for the market – where does that leave the economy? Unfortunately, chugging along in low gear, neither in recession nor robust recovery.

Tune in tomorrow morning when the Labor Department tells us how U.S. unemployment is doing: one data point where big investors and average Americans come together and pay close attention.

Also on the show today, the Marketplace Daily Index is down a point on news that it’s costing Americans more to bank than ever before thanks to a growing number of fees on services like checking and ATM cards.

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