S&P 500, Nasdaq slip as bond yields rise

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 500 slipped on Friday after hitting an all-time high the prior session as rising U.S. bond yields revived inflation worries and dulled the appeal of high-growth technology shares.

FILE PHOTO: The front facade of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in New York, U.S., February 12, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The tech-heavy Nasdaq tumbled after rebounding more than 6% over the past three sessions, while the blue-chip Dow scaled its fifth consecutive record high.

Wall Street’s main indexes are set for their best week in five after President Joe Biden signed into law on Thursday one of the largest U.S. fiscal stimulus bills and data reinforced the outlook that the economy was on the path to a recovery.

A steady rise in U.S. Treasury yields has raised fears of a sudden tapering of monetary stimulus, pressuring the main U.S. stock indexes in recent weeks.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year note hit 1.642%, the highest level since February of last year. [US/]

The bifurcation of the Dow and Nasdaq reflects an ongoing sell-off in tech as investors buy cyclical and underpriced value stocks that are expected to do well as the economy recovers.

For tech stocks to continue to flourish you need low rates, and in effect slower growth, said Thomas Hayes, chairman and managing member of hedge fund Great Hill Capital LLC.

But with the stimulus package the economy is likely to expand 7% to 9% this year and pressure interest rates, he said.

“That’s why you’re seeing rates rise today because the reopening is happening faster and stronger than anticipated. And that’s when value and cyclicals and economically sensitive stocks outperform,” Hayes said.

The speedy distribution of vaccines and more fiscal aid have spurred concerns of rising inflation despite assurances from the Federal Reserve to maintain an accommodative policy. All eyes will be on the central bank’s policy meeting next week for further cues on inflation.

U.S. consumer sentiment improved in early March to its strongest in a year, a survey by the University of Michigan showed on Friday.

By 2:22 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 228.31 points, or 0.7%, at 32,713.9, the S&P 500 was down 7.12 points, or 0.18%, at 3,932.22 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 144.70 points, or 1.08%, to 13,253.98.

The Nasdaq has been particularly hit by the sell-off in recent weeks and confirmed a correction at the start of the week as investors swapped richly valued technology stocks with those of energy, mining and industrial companies that are poised to benefit more from an economic rebound.

Value stocks added about 0.6%, while growth stocks slumped 1.1% in a continuation of a rotation that began late last year.

The high-flying but yield-sensitive group of stocks including of Facebook Inc, Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Netflix Inc, Google-parent Alphabet Inc, Tesla Inc and Microsoft Corp, which fueled the past’s year rally, fell.

Tech, communication services and consumer discretionary indexes, which house these mega-cap stocks, slipped the most among major S&P sectors.

The bank index jumped 1.2%, while financials and industrials clinched new record levels.

Ulta Beauty Inc slumped about 8% after the cosmetics retailer forecast annual revenue below estimates, as demand for make-up products were under pressure due to extended work-from-home policies.

U.S.-listed shares of China-based JD.com Inc dropped 7% after three sources said it is in talks to buy part or all of a stake in brokerage Sinolink Securities worth at least $1.5 billion.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.10-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.25-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 77 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 375 new highs and 12 new lows.

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