Trading Volumes Are at 2018 Lows as U.S. Investors Wait on Earnings

Activity on the U.S. exchanges hasn’t been this low all year.

About 6.1 billion shares changed hands on the nation’s main bourses on Wednesday and Thursday, the lowest level since late December. Trading of options has eased off too. The daily average number of contracts this month is 18 million, the least since December and 13 percent lower than March, according to the Options Clearing Corp.


A flare up of tensions around the Middle East coupled with uncertainty over tariffs and government scrutiny of Facebook Inc. pushed investors to stay quiet and wait for earnings season to convince them whether an expected profit rebound is on track. With the first of the big banks kicking off earnings on Friday, analysts anticipate a 17 percent gain in the S&P 500 income in the January-March period, the most in seven years.

“The general feeling of uncertainty could be contributing to the lack of volume,” said Stephen Carl, head trader at Williams Capital Group. “Investors don’t know which way they want to go.”

— With assistance by Cecile Vannucci

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