Well, why not?
Shares of Amazon (AMZN) were down as much as 7.4% after Axios reported that President Donald Trump is “obsessed” with regulating the company and has discussed changing the way the company collects (or doesn’t) sales tax.
The stock rallied back to close the day “just” 4.38% lower after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated that the administration isn’t considering any specific changes in regulations directed at the company.
I don’t know who this story says more about. The President has complained about Amazon squeezing the USPS on prices in a Christmas-time tweet and he has called the company an antitrust violator. He has also lashed out a CEO Jeff Bezos and the newspaper he owns, “The Amazon Washington Post” over its coverage of the administration. It’s certainly believable that the President would decide to use the tax code or the Justice Department to punish Amazon.
But I doubt the financial markets would have taken this thinly sourced, speculative, and rather minor story from Axios seriously enough to wipe $53 billion (yes, that’s “billion” with a “b”) off Amazon’s market value today if the market wasn’t in the midst of taking sizable whacks out of every technology leader from the last rally and nervously asking itself How much lower can we go?
The answer, and this is what makes the market so nervous and so susceptible to rumors like this, is that we could have a long way still to go since the rise at the end of 2017 and into 2018 was so spectacularly parabolic. Looking at a two-year chart of Amazon there’s relatively minor support for the stock at $1162 in November 2017 and then substantial support at $1000 from June to September 2017.
That’s not very reassuring on a stock that closed today at $1431.
Amazon doesn’t have to fall to support. After all it only retreated to $1340 in the January/Feburary 2018 market drop.
But the fact that it could is enough to send $53 billion down the tubes on nothing much in the way of news on a flat day for the market as whole.