Wall Street is grappling with a formidable challenge as the bond market exerts increasing pressure on equity prices. On Monday, the stocks’ indices continued to tread lower, facing headwinds that have persisted for months.
S&P 500 Leads the Decline
In the early trading hours, the S&P 500 suffered a 0.7% decline, reflecting the sombre mood that engulfed investors after its worst week in a month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was not far behind, down by 181 points, or 0.5%, by 9:40 a.m. Eastern time. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq composite was hit hardest, sliding 0.9%.
Bond Yields Continue to Surge
The key driver behind this slump in the stock market is the relentless surge in Treasury yields. This trend, ongoing since the summer, has made investors anxious, with bond yields on the rise once again. The 10-year Treasury yield reached 4.96%, up from 4.91% late the previous Friday. During the morning hours, it even briefly touched 5.02%, reaching its highest level since 2007.
Global Implications of Rising Yields
The significance of Treasury yields extends beyond the bond market; it influences the prices of various assets, from stocks to corporate bonds and cryptocurrencies. Additionally, the rise in yields has made borrowing money more expensive for individuals and businesses, which could potentially hinder economic growth.
Stock Market Flotation Warnings from Financial Experts
Seema Shah, Chief Global Strategist of Principal Asset Management, expressed concerns: “If bond yields continue to rise relentlessly, something will eventually break.” Indeed, this scenario has already played a role in the failure of three major U.S. banks earlier this year.
Factors Behind the Surge in Yields
The 10-year Treasury yield’s recent ascent is attributed to multiple factors. It is catching up to the overnight interest rate hikes conducted by the Federal Reserve over the past year to control inflation. These rate hikes have pushed the Fed’s main rate above 5.25%, a level unseen since 2001.
Stock Market Rally: Inflation Remains a Concern
Despite the decline in inflation from its peak last year, upward pressures on inflation persist. Factors contributing to this include volatile oil prices and geopolitical tensions, exemplified by the recent Hamas-Israel conflict. Concerns over disruptions in oil supplies have contributed to fluctuating oil prices.
Oil Prices Relieve Inflation Pressures
However, oil prices experienced a drop, with benchmark U.S. crude oil falling 1.1% to $87.15 and Brent crude, the international standard, falling 0.7% to $91.50. These price movements provide some relief from inflation concerns.
Oil Industry’s Significant Deals
In the oil and gas industry, Chevron announced its acquisition of rival Hess in an all-stock management valued at $53 billion. Despite this, Chevron’s stock declined by 3%, while Hess rose by 0.7%. This deal follows Exxon Mobil’s recent acquisition of Pioneer Natural Resources, a deal valued at $59.5 billion.
Tech Giants Face Challenges
Tech giant Apple had a significant impact on the S&P 500 as its stock price dropped by 1.6%. This decline followed reports that its Taiwan-based supplier, Foxconn Technology, faced investigations by Chinese tax authorities.
Global Market Trends
Volatile stocks globally experienced similar weakness, with London’s FTSE 100 down 0.5% and stocks in Shanghai down 1.5%. Even Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index faced a 0.9% loss despite Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s announcement of measures to stimulate economic growth in the world’s third-largest economy.
Market Uncertainty Persists
The ongoing rise in Treasury yields continues to cast a shadow of uncertainty over the stock market. As the bond market remains unpredictable, investors remain cautious, leaving Wall Street to grapple with mounting challenges.