OCTOBER SPOOKS STOCKS… Hiring slows… Manhattan housing prices in near ‘free fall’… Ag Secretary: No guarantee small farms will survive…

Dow plunges 550 points as big tech shares lead the decline

Stocks fell sharply on Wednesday, adding to Wall Street’s poor start to the final quarter of 2019 as investors grapple with fears of an economic recession.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined by 550 points, or 2.1% to break below its 50-day and 100-day moving averages, two technical levels watched by traders. The S&P 500 lost 2% to fall below its 100-day moving average as the tech sector dropped 2.5%. All 11 S&P 500 sectors were down, with seven of them sliding at least 2%.

The Nasdaq Composite slid 1.8% as large-cap tech companies followed the broader market lower. Amazon, Apple and Alphabet all dropped at least 1.5%. Microsoft shares also fell 2.3%.

Equities were down on the second day of the fourth quarter after the Institute for Supply Management said U.S. manufacturing activity fell last month to its lowest level in more than 10 years.

September private payrolls report shows the pace of hiring is slowing

  • Private payrolls rose by 135,000 in September, ahead of Dow Jones estimates for 125,000, according to ADP and Moody’s Analytics.
  • That brought the monthly average for 2019 down to 145,000, compared with 214,000 a year earlier.
  • Education and health services saw the fastest growth with 42,000 positions. Trade, transportation and utilities was next with 28,000.

NYC housing prices in near ‘free fall,’ conditions mirror recession era following tax hikes

The Manhattan real estate market stumbled in the third quarter of 2019, new reports show, as prices plunged and fewer buyers were willing to purchase higher-priced properties in the wake of two recent tax increases.

The median sales price for properties fell 17 percent from the same quarter last year, to $999,950, according to new data from CORE. The average sales price dropped 12 percent, to $1.64 million.

Condo sales fell 8 percent, logging 946 transactions. Co-op sales, on the other hand, were up a modest 2 percent year over year.

“The third quarter of 2019 was undoubtedly the most challenging quarter in recent memory, especially for condo sales,” Garrett Derderian, managing director of market analysis at CORE, said in a statement. “Market prices have gone from what was once described as the kindest, gentlest correction to a near free-fall. The last time conditions were described in such a way was in the height of the recession.”

Consequently, nearly 30 percent of the inventory on the market was priced above $3 million.

Trump Ag secretary: No guarantee small farms will survive

President Donald Trump’s agriculture secretary said Tuesday during a stop in Wisconsin that he doesn’t know if the family dairy farm can survive as the industry moves toward a factory farm model.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters following an appearance at the World Dairy Expo in Madison that it’s getting harder for farmers to get by on milking smaller herds.

“In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” Perdue said. “I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.”

Perdue’s visit comes as Wisconsin dairy farmers are wrestling with a host of problems, including declining milk prices, rising suicide rates, the transition to larger farms with hundreds or thousands of animals and Trump’s international trade wars.

Wisconsin, which touts itself as America’s Dairyland on its license plates, has lost 551 dairy farms in 2019 after losing 638 in 2018 and 465 in 2017, according to data from the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The Legislature’s finance committee voted unanimously last month to spend an additional $200,000 to help struggling farmers deal with depression and mental health problems.

Jerry Volenec, a fifth generation Wisconsin dairy farmer with 330 cows, left the Perdue event feeling discouraged about his future.

“What I heard today from the secretary of agriculture is there’s no place for me,” Volenec told reporters. “Can I get some support from my state and federal government? I feel like we’re a benefit to society.”

Getting bigger at the expense of smaller operations like his is “not a good way to go,” said Darin Von Ruden, president of Wisconsin Farmers Union and a third generation dairy farmer who runs a 50-cow organic farm.

“Do we want one corporation owning all the food in our country?” he said to reporters.

Perdue said he believes the 2018 farm bill should help farmers stay afloat. The bill reauthorizes agriculture and conservation programs at a rough cost of $400 billion over five years or $867 billion over 10 years. But he warned that small farms will still struggle to compete.

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