Spike in Bond Yields Upends Stock Rally02/21 16:05
U.S. stocks closed broadly lower Wednesday, erasing an early gain, as
investors reacted to a late-afternoon surge in bond yields.
(AP) -- U.S. stocks closed broadly lower Wednesday, erasing an early gain,
as investors reacted to a late-afternoon surge in bond yields.
Bond yields climbed to their highest level in four years after the Federal
Reserve released minutes from its latest policy meeting. The minutes showed
bullish sentiment among policymakers, confirming their intention to raise
interest rates this year.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose sharply after the minutes came
out, touching 2.95 percent, its highest level since January 2014. Higher bond
yields indicate investors expect more risk of inflation. They also can threaten
stock prices by making bonds more appealing versus stocks.
"We're moving back to normal volatility, we're moving back toward normal
interest rates, normal inflation," said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer
for Wells Fargo Private Bank. "This is what normal looks like."
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 14.93 points, or 0.6 percent, to
2,701.33. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 166.97 points, or 0.7 percent,
to 24,797.78. The blue chip average had been 300 points higher before the
The Nasdaq gave up 16.08 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,218.23. The Russell
2000 index of smaller-company stocks shed most of its gains from earlier in the
day. It inched up 1.84 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,531.84.
The major stock indexes started the day on pace to recoup some of the
market's losses from a day earlier as investors sized up the latest crop of
Technology companies, retailers and industrial stocks led the way for much
of the day. The rally kicked into a higher gear shortly after the Fed minutes
Traders appeared to initially welcome the details in the meeting minutes,
which show that a majority of Fed officials at the meeting believed that
improving global economic prospects and the effects of recently passed tax cuts
had raised the prospect for solid economic growth and for continued interest
rate increases in 2018.
The Fed did not raise rates at the January meeting, which occurred before
the February stock market plunge and turbulence.
Then bond yields began to climb, and the stock market rally began to
evaporate. For a while, bank shares jumped in response to the rise in bond
yields, which can benefit banks by allowing them to charge higher interest
rates on loans. But soon banks stocks also slid into the red.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which is used as a benchmark for
mortgages and other loans, has been rising in recent months from a recent low
of 2.04 percent in September.
The pickup in yields has begun to make bonds more attractive as an
alternative to stocks, which makes some investors uneasy.
Despite the broader market slide, investors bid up shares in some companies
that reported better-than-expected earnings or outlooks Wednesday.
Advance Auto Parts vaulted 8.2 percent after reporting better earnings than
analysts were expecting. The stock was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500,
adding $8.65 to $114. Shares in rival auto parts retailer AutoZone also rose,
climbing $6.26, or 0.9 percent, to $719.49.
La-Z-Boy also got a lift from its latest quarterly report card, rising
$2.85, or 9.9 percent, to $31.75.
Walmart shares continued to slide Wednesday, a day after posting its biggest
single-day drop in 30 years. The stock lost $2.59, or 2.8 percent, to $91.52.
Devon Energy slid 11.8 percent after the energy company disclosed a
smaller-than-expected profit and 2018 forecast that raised concerns with
analysts. The stock gave up $4.08 to $30.57.
Benchmark U.S. crude fell 11 cents to settle at $61.68 per barrel in New
York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 17 cents to close at
$65.42 per barrel in London.
In other energy futures trading, heating oil was little changed at $1.93 a
gallon. Wholesale gasoline added a penny to $1.76 a gallon. Natural gas rose 4
cents to $2.66 per 1,000 cubic feet.
The dollar rose to 107.78 yen from 107.30 yen on Tuesday. The euro weakened
to $1.2300 from $1.2336.
Gold rose 90 cents to $1,332.10 an ounce. Silver added 18 cents to $16.62 an
ounce. Copper gained 3 cents to $3.22 a pound.
Major indexes in Europe ended mostly higher. Germany's DAX slipped 0.1
percent, while France's CAC 40 rose 0.2 percent and Britain's FTSE 100 added
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.2 percent and Hong Kong's Hang
Seng gained 1.8 percent. Australia's S&P ASX 200 edged 0.1 percent higher. The
Kospi in South Korea added 0.6 percent. India's Sensex gained 0.3 percent.
Shares in Southeast Asia were mixed.