Bull Market’s Latest Hurdle: Slowing Sales Growth

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Revenue growth at U.S. companies is slowing, stirring concern that a corporate-profit boom that has driven the Dow Jones Industrial Average and other major stock indexes to dozens of records in 2018 is in jeopardy.

Firms from asset manager BlackRock Inc. to computing giant International Business Machines Corp. IBM -1.11% this month have reported disappointing quarterly sales, citing such factors as cautious customers, rising costs and a stronger dollar. So far this quarter, 35% of the 85 reporting S&P 500 companies have missed Wall Street analysts’ sales forecasts, according to FactSet. If sustained, that quarterly sales-miss ratio would mark the highest this year.

The misses are contributing to the latest bout of stock-market volatility. The S&P 500 has shed 4.8% over the past month, driven by concerns about rising interest rates and trade disputes that pushed investors to dump technology stocks and shares of other fast-growing companies.

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