Stocks shake off an early loss, end higher as tech rebounds
Stocks shook off an early slide and closed higher Tuesday as Wall Street welcomed more modest moves in the bond market after a recent surge in Treasury yields weighed on the market.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.9% after having been down 0.7% in the early going. The selling eased by afternoon, with technology stocks reversing course and turning higher. The benchmark index was coming off five straight losses and hadn’t had a winning day since the first trading day of the year, when it set an all-time high.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.5% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 1.4%. Smaller-company stocks also bounced back, pushing the Russell 2000 higher by 1.1%.
Bond yields, which have risen sharply since the beginning of the year, edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.74% from 1.77% late Monday. Yields affect interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans.
With COVID protocols keeping them out of rooms before checkout, hotel housekeepers say they are discovering scenes that are filthier and potentially more hazardous than anything they can remember.
“Once rates started to stabilize, it started to put some of the investor fears about rates going up on a one-way train at ease, which then put a little bit of a bid back under technology,” said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “We don’t need rates to go down, we just need them to level off or move at a much slower pace.”
The S&P 500 rose 42.78 points to 4,713.07, and the Dow added 183.15 points to 36,252.02. The Nasdaq rose 210.62 points to 15,153.45, while the Russell 2000 picked up 22.85 points to 2,194. The indexes are all in the red this month.
Traders are trying to calibrate how markets and the economy will handle the higher interest rates that are likely on the way from the Federal Reserve this year. That has weighed heaviest on pricey technology stocks, which become less attractive to investors as interest rates rise.
Technology stocks have been choppy since late Monday, when a late-afternoon rally for the sector trimmed much of the broader market’s losses. Apple rose 1.7% and chipmaker Nvidia rose 1.5%.
Communication stocks and a mix of retailers and other companies that rely on direct consumer spending rose. Facebook parent Meta Platforms gained 1.9% and Gap rose 3%.
Energy futures rose. The price of U.S. crude oil jumped 3.8%, helping boost energy stocks. Exxon Mobil rose 4.2%.
Utilities and other investments that are considered less risky fell.
The Fed has said it will accelerate the reduction of its bond purchases, which have helped keep interest rates low. The market now puts the chances of the Fed raising short-term rates by at least a quarter point in March at around 75%. A month ago, it was about 36%.
The central bank is easing up on its support for the U.S. economy and financial markets as businesses and consumers face persistently rising inflation.
Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell acknowledged Tuesday that high inflation has emerged as a serious threat to the Fed’s goal of helping put more Americans back to work and that the Fed will raise rates more than it now plans if needed to stem surging prices. Powell spoke at a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee, which is considering his nomination for a second four-year term.
The World Bank downgraded its forecast for the global economy, partly blaming supply-chain problems that have been fueling inflation. The 189-country, anti-poverty agency forecasts worldwide economic growth of 4.1% this year, down from the 4.3% growth it was forecasting last June. It’s also down from the 5.5% expansion it estimates the global economy tallied in 2021.
Investors will get two key reports on inflation this week from the Labor Department. The consumer price index for December will be released Wednesday and give an update on how inflation is driving the price of goods for consumers. An index based on U.S. wholesale prices in December will be released Thursday and provide another update on how inflation is affecting costs for businesses.
Wall Street is also watching rising numbers of coronavirus cases globally to gauge the economic effect. China, the world’s second-largest economy, has put a third city on lockdown because of the latest surge.
Major companies, including automakers such as Toyota, had been counting on a recovery in the supply of semiconductor chips and other products from China and the rest of Asia, as vaccinations and other coronavirus prevention efforts has advanced. The recent surge in infections by the Omicron variant of coronavirus has shaken such hopes.