Stocks slip in mixed trading as rate pressure ratchets up
Rising Treasury yields put pressure once more on big technology companies Tuesday, pulling U.S. stock indexes further below their recent all-time highs.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 0.3%. Healthcare stocks also dragged down the market, outweighing gains by banks, industrial stocks and companies that rely on consumer spending. Smaller companies bucked the downward trend, powering the Russell 2000 index to a 1.7% gain.
Treasury yields perked higher after a report showed that consumers are feeling even more confident than economists expected, a big deal for an economy that’s primarily made up of consumer spending. Meanwhile, President Biden was set to unveil details Wednesday about plans to spend what could be more than $3 trillion on infrastructure and other measures to help the economy and environment.
The consumer confidence report, and the prospect of more massive government spending, fueled a sell-off in U.S. bonds, driving their yields higher.
The plan would help fight climate change and reduce deadly air pollution from cars, trucks and power plants and gas furnaces.
The S&P 500 slid 12.54 to 3,958.55, its second decline in a row. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 104.41 from the all-time high it set a day before, or 0.3%, to 33,066.96. The Nasdaq composite fell 14.25, or 0.1%, to 13,045.39. The Russell 2000 rose 37.11 to 2,195.80.
The spotlight was again on the bond market, where the yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.73% from 1.72% late Monday. It has jumped from roughly 0.90% at the start of the year with rising expectations for coming economic growth and possibly inflation.
When bonds pay more in interest, they can make investors less willing to pay high prices for stocks, particularly those seen as the most expensive. Companies that ask their investors to wait years for big profit growth to come to fruition are also hard hit, which has many big technology stocks feeling the most pain from rising rates.
Broadcom fell 3.5% and Cisco Systems dropped 1.4%. Tech giants also fell, including a 1.2% slide by Apple and a 1.4% drop by Microsoft. They were some of the biggest winners earlier in the pandemic, rallying on expectations that they can grow in the future, regardless of whether the economy is locked down by a virus.
Financial stocks rallied, in part because higher longer-term interest rates mean bigger profits from making loans.
Comerica gained 5.1%. Goldman Sachs rose 1.9%, and Morgan Stanley gained 1.6%. Reports said the two financial giants were able to limit their losses by quickly selling stocks held by a hedge fund that amassed big ownership stakes in companies using borrowed money. The banks have not named the fund, but reports have identified it as Archegos Capital Management.
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