OCTOBER 4, 2018
Stocks fell sharply on Thursday as interest rates hit new multiyear highs, dampening investor sentiment.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 350 points as Home Depot lagged, down 2.5 percent. The 30-stock index was on track for its worst day since June.
The S&P 500 declined 1.3 percent with communications and tech both sliding more than 2 percent. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.2 percent as Facebook, Netflix and Alphabet all dropped more than 2 percent.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield reached its highest level since 2011, breaking above 3.2 percent.
“The level of the rates does not concern us,” said Steve Chiavarone, portfolio manager at Federated Investors. “That said, moving more than 10 basis points in two days is a different story. Pace matters and it bares watching.”
“When you move at this pace in a short amount of time, it’s natural for the market to take a breather,” Chiavarone said.
Interest-rate sensitive stocks fell broadly, including Procter & Gamble, which traded 2 percent lower. Bank shares, meanwhile, benefited from the higher rates. J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America rose 0.3 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.
The yield surge started on Wednesday after new data showed private payrolls rose by 230,000 in September, which far surpassed the 168,000 jobs in August. Elsewhere on Wednesday, the ISM non-manufacturing index hit its highest level on record.
Comments from the top Federal Reserve official also stoked yields higher. On Wednesday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that the U.S. central bank had a long way to go before interest rates hit neutral, suggesting to markets that more hikes could be on the horizon.
“The current move higher looks to be an adjustment to several months of data that suggested that the US economy has accelerated over the course of 2018. In particular the labor market looks to have tightened considerably, and recent commentary by the FOMC suggests that this has not gone unnoticed,” said Michael Shaoul, chairman and CEO of Marketfield Asset Management.
Shaoul noted rates could go even higher from here. “With nominal growth in the US finally breaking higher and the FOMC conceivably pushing the policy rate up to 3.0% by this time next year a 10 year yield above 3.50% hardly strikes us as outlandish,” he said.
Thursday’s moves come after the Dow hit a record high. The Dow, along with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, initially moved higher as investors first cheered the strong economic data released Wednesday.
On Thursday, initial jobless claims fell to 207,000, a near 49-year low. The report comes as investors brace for the September jobs report, which is scheduled to be released Friday morning.
Shares of Amazon and Apple both fell after a report said a Chinese equipment manufacturer may have allowed microchips used for spying into some equipment used by Amazon Web Services and the iPhone maker. Both companies dispute the report.
Chipmakers fell broadly after Deutsche Bank reduced its 2019 earnings forecasts by an average of 5 percent on eight chip stocks. Micron and Nvidia fell more than 3 percent while Advanced Micro Devices pulled back 2.8 percent.