Stocks dropped amid rising long-term bond yields, with sharp declines in high-valuation growth stocks leading the overall market lower.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 1.78%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 declined 2.45%. The Nasdaq Composite index, home to many high-valuation growth plays, fell 4.92% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, edged up 0.37%.1,2,3
Rising Rates Derail Stocks
The 10-year Treasury yield climbed last week, from 1.34% to 1.42%, sending shudders through the stock market. While investors generally understand that economic strength may lead to higher bond yields, it was the speed at which bond yields rose that proved unsettling. Generally, when yields rise, bond prices tend to fall.4
Rising yields also drove sector rotation, with economic reopening stocks (e.g., energy, financials, and industrials) outperforming stay-at-home stocks, especially many of the big technology names.
The trend of higher yields was mitigated by testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday by Fed Chair Jerome Powell. He provided some assurances that the Fed remained committed to its current easy money policy stance.5
A surge in yields on Thursday, however, sparked a new wave of anxiety and a broad retreat that left market averages lower for the week.
Powell Testimony Calms Investors
Concerns over rising long-term bond yields and inflationary pressures were eased by two days of testimony by Fed Chair Powell. Powell reiterated the Fed’s intention to stick with its near-zero short-term interest rate policy and monthly bond purchase program until the labor market fully recovers and its inflation goals are met.
This Week: Key Economic Data
Monday: Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Index.
This Week: Companies Reporting Earnings
Monday: Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (ZM).
Footnotes and Sources
2. The Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2021
3. The Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2021
4. U.S. Department of the Treasury, February 26, 2021
5. The Wall Street Journal, February 24, 2021
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March 1, 2021 - Rising Bond Yields Diminish Stocks
March 01, 2021