Sometimes the market deserves to go down. Today was one of those days where it deserved to plummet, and it did.
You see on days like today you have to invoke what I call a Rufus and Chaka Khan philosophy. You have to tell me something good; you have to tell me that you like it, yeah. And there was nothing good and nothing to like if you wanted to buy stocks into the weakness.
Instead you got the opposite. I counted seven reasons why stocks were right to go down today and no reasons why they should rally. Here's my tell-me-something-bad check list that spooked the market "bigly."
First, you could have the most anti-business candidate running for president and as long as you knew that, with a degree of certainty, that person was going to win, you could figure out what to do. Typically there's a thesis that works for anyone. A very left-wing candidate wants to put people to work. You can put people to work with infrastructure projects. There's a whole subset of stocks that works under that scenario. Or you can find some common ground where there's a business interest that's not totally antithetical to a candidate, like in this case, with Hillary Clinton and defense spending, you can make your peace and your money.
But when you have indecision this close to election day, and you have a remarkably different set of agendas and out-and-out palpable hatred among the candidates, it's really difficult to game. It's much easier to sell. The tighter the polls get, and they are getting a lot tighter, the more it makes sense to sell. More important, the issue that is driving Donald Trump up in the polls, the new emails, is not one that is going to go away on Election Day.
Remember, the stock market likes predictability and Donald Trump prides himself on his unpredictability. That doesn't mean he is necessarily erratic. It does mean that he's awfully hard to get a bead on. So before last Friday market participants thought we had a done deal with a candidate that was gameable. Now we don't have a done deal with one candidate who doesn't want to be gameable with an overhanging issue that won't be resolved by Election Day that could cause a contested election that won't end on Election Day. You could easily see a situation developing where Donald Trump will not concede even if he loses because he can say he would have won if Clinton were to have been indicted from these new emails. Hey, crazier things have happened.
So, to sum up, issue No. 1 about why we went down: The market abhors uncertainty, and it is saying we are going to get it both before and after Election Day no matter who wins.
Issue No. 2 in the tell-me-something-bad list? Oil keeps going lower. It's now down five straight dollars and we haven't lost that linkage that says as oil goes so goes the market. We know now that the Saudis' claim of a deal to support prices is poppycock, even as when oil gets closer to $40 I figure they reiterate that they have an agreement and we get another run higher again.
Tell me something bad No. 3? Apple (AAPL) . The stock of Apple, a holding in the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, is now down for five straight days after that good quarter and when the stock goes down it is subject to all sorts of negative stories. I heard a whopper today about how demand for the new MacBooks isn't strong. That's something given the fact I was all over the place trying to get one this weekend and was told they simply aren't available. But the fact is the decline in this, the largest-cap stock, is casting a pall over the entire Nasdaq, which acts horrendously anyway.
Wound No. 4: We're back in retail hell. One of the best retailers, L Brands (LB) , which includes Pink, Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret, reported weaker numbers last night and its stock got crushed. There were two items that were most troubling about this decline. First, while the numbers were lower than expected, especially Victoria's Secret, they weren't so bad that you would expect such a ferocious reaction, with the stock losing more than 8%. Second, last week J.P. Morgan's Matthew Boss, the hottest retail analyst in the business, told you there would be a shortfall here. He laid the story out exactly as it happened. There was no surprise here. Yet the market acted stunned. That's a bad sign for future retailer reports for certain.
Tell me something bad No. 5? A tweet from Bernie Sanders questioning drug pricing by Eli Lilly (LLY) . "Why has the price of Humalog insulin gone up 700% in 20 years?" Sanders tweeted. "It's simple. The drug industry's greed." Ouch. Put aside the fact that there's a price war in insulin right now, one that drove insulin king Novo Nordisk (NVO) stock down from $41 to $35 in a heartbeat. The fact is that this tweet is what many investors in the health-care sector most fear. It is emblematic of what they think will happen if the Democrats get control of Congress: A series of actions that roll back price increases that have been the mother's milk of drug company profits. Of course, the most negative theme of this earnings period has been the decline and fall of health-care pricing. We have seen companies in health care as varied as 3M (MMM) and Zimmer Biomet (ZBH) , Novo, McKesson (MCK) , Eli Lilly , AbbVie (ABBV) and today Pfizer (PFE) get hammered mercilessly because of a perception that competition is busting out all over the place. Plus we have the worries about Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) , not just because of a potential indictment of the old management but because of worries about the $30 billion debt load in a world where the company's debt payments were sustained by larger and larger price increases coupled with smaller and smaller research-and-development spending, something that new management has said publicly will be reversed.
Bad boy No. 6? The trucking cycle. Holy cow, how did this get so anemic? Today we had both Cummins (CMI) and Eaton Vance (EV) release numbers that were sharply below expectations and their stocks were hammered. Many investors had been gravitating toward these kinds of cyclicals given that they seemed safer than health-care stocks, which is a pretty dubious distinction. Again, I was shocked that people were surprised by trucking weakness given that Klaus Kleinfeld from Arconic, formerly part of Action Alerts PLUS holding Alcoa (AA) , that truck building has been very weak. But like Matthew Boss with L Brands, the negatives just don't seem to sink in.
Finally, our unlucky bad story No. 7? The inability of stocks to bounce even after days and days of going down. Yesterday I was on "Halftime" with uber Cramer Fave Scott Wapner and we were talking about the Nike (NKE) downgrade to sell from hold by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. We were discussing, frankly, how obvious it was, given that the stock's been down pretty much endlessly in a straight line. I said that it didn't matter anymore. That's become the new normal. Growth stocks just keep going down with no bounce once they start on that course. Witness Home Depot HD . Witness Starbucks (SBUX) , a holding in the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio. Witness Under Armour (UA) . All great companies. But all inundated with sellers. The inability to even have a relief rally, to break out of the house of pain for even a few days has become a regular, a constant, of this market for the last month and it's got people really spooked.
Remember this is just one day. We've been told a lot of good: takeovers, upgrades, excellent job numbers, and many upside surprises. But today? We got told something bad and nothing else. And this is what you get.