U.S. stocks fell on Thursday as higher bond yields continued to put pressure on high-growth technology stocks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 410 points after closing at a record high in the previous session. The S&P 500 lost 1.9%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slid 2.8% as Alphabet, Apple and Microsoft all slid more than 2%. Tesla dropped 7%.
The 10-year Treasury yield topped 1.49% Thursday, hitting its highest level since February 2020. The jump put the benchmark rate above the S&P 500’s dividend yield, reducing the relative appeal of equities, which are already considered riskier assets. Higher rate could also hit the growth-oriented technology sector especially hard as the group has relied on easy borrowing.
“Our base case is that rates will continue to rise due to increasing growth and inflation expectations and, eventually, Federal Reserve normalization,” said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial. “We also believe if rates move too high too fast, the Fed will intervene to make sure rising rates don’t become too restrictive and disrupt equity markets or the real economy.”
Investors digested better-than-expected economic data out Thursday. First-time jobless claims totaled 730,000 for the week ended Feb. 20, versus a print of 845,000 expected by economists polled by Dow Jones. Meanwhile, durable goods orders increased by 3.4% in January, compared to a Dow Jones consensus of 1.0% growth.
Some traders looked past the moves in the bond market after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell emphasized the central bank’s commitment to easy policy and downplayed the risk of inflation, saying it could take three years or more before the Fed’s goals are reached.
On Wednesday, the Dow jumped 425 points to close at a record high in a volatile session that at one point saw the 30-stock average drop more than 110 points. The S&P 500 advanced 1.1%, while the Nasdaq Composite wiped out a 1.3% loss to close 1% higher.
“It seems pretty clear to us that the move in rates has been driven by growing optimism about economic growth, and rates are finally ‘catching up’ to the bullish growth outlook in equities,” said David Lefkowitz, head of equities Americas at UBS Global Wealth Management. “So equity investors should not be overly concerned.”
GameStop, the controversial meme stock whose massive short squeeze shocked Wall Street last month, is on the rise again. Shares were up more than 60% in volatile trading after doubling in the previous session on the reported ousting of a chief executive.
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