Thursday March 18th


S&P 500 futures fall as 10-year bond yield surges to 14-month high

U.S. stock index futures dipped early Thursday pressured by tech shares as a spike in bond fueled fears of equity valuations and caused investors to sell high flyers. S&P 500 futures fell 0.8% and Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 1.8%. Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook all slid at least 1% in premarket trading. Tesla slipped more than 2%. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures traded flat. The move in futures came as the 10-year Treasury yield jumped 10 basis points to 1.74%, its highest level since January 2020. The 30-year rate also climbed 6 basis points and breached the 2.5% level for the first time since August 2019. Rising bond yields can have an outsized impact on growth stocks as they make their future returns less valuable today. Investors digested a mixed bag of economic data Thursday. Weekly initial jobless claims totaled 770,000 for the week ended March 13, worse than an estimate of 700,000, according to economist polled by Dow Jones. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s manufacturing index showed a reading of 51.8, well exceeding Dow Jones consensus of 22.0 and hitting the highest level for the gauge since 1973. The blue-chip Dow closed above 33,000 for the first time on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said it does not expect to hike interest rates through 2023. Fed Chair Jerome Powell reiterated that the central bank wants to see inflation consistently above its 2% target and material improvement in the U.S. labor market before considering changes to rates or its monthly bond purchases. The key message from Wednesday’s Fed meeting “is that the committee expects to be extraordinarily accommodative for a very long time to come, even as the economic outlook brightens,” wrote Eric Winograd, senior economist at AB. “The FOMC shares the market’s view that growth and inflation are likely to rebound as activity surges in 2021, but it does not view that surge in activity as durable,” he added. The Fed upgraded its economic outlook to reflect expectations for a stronger recovery while simultaneously quelling investors’ concerns that it could abandon its easy monetary policy sooner than expected. The central bank said it expects to see gross domestic product grow 6.5% in 2021 before cooling off in later years and inflation rise 2.2% this year as measured by personal consumption expenditures. The central bank’s stated goal is to keep inflation at 2% over the long run. Asia-Pacific markets broadly advanced Thursday as investors cheered after the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policymaking committee overnight voted to keep short-term borrowing rates near zero in a widely expected move. The Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 1.01% to 30,216.75 while the Topix index added 1.23% to 2,008.51. South Korea’s Kospi climbed 0.61% to 3,066.01 and the Kosdaq rose 0.64% to 949.83. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index rose 1.21% to 29,384.84 while Singapore’s Straits Times index gained 0.74% in late-afternoon trade. Chinese mainland shares also advanced: The Shanghai composite rose 0.51% to 3,463.07 while the Shenzhen component added 1.12% to 13,963.92. Oil prices dropped for a fifth day on Thursday after official data showed a sustained rise in U.S. crude and fuel inventories, while the ever-present pandemic clouded the demand outlook. Brent crude was down 12 cents, or 0.2%, at $67.88 a barrel after dropping by 0.6% on Wednesday. U.S. oil was unchanged at $64.60 a barrel, having fallen 0.3% the previous session. Gold slid 1% on Thursday, retreating from a more than two-week high as rising U.S. Treasury yields and a stronger dollar dented demand for the safe-haven metal. Spot gold was down 0.9% to $1,728.51 an ounce after touching its highest since March 1 at $1,755.25 in the session. Meanwhile, U.S. gold futures were up 0.2% at $1,730.90 per ounce.