1. Global stocks extend selloff; investors fret over high bond yields

Global stocks extend selloff; investors fret over high bond yields

Stocks in world indexes fell again on Thursday, with major US indexes dropping more than 3 percent in late afternoon trade.

By: | New York | Published: February 9, 2018 3:56 AM
global stocks, worldwide  stocks, stock markets across glob, economy, stock markets, investment The drop in bond prices and the subsequent rise in yields have kept equity investors nervous about higher interest rates and inflation. (Reuters)

Stocks in world indexes fell again on Thursday, with major US indexes dropping more than 3 percent in late afternoon trade after US bond yields earlier crept back up towards four-year highs. US Treasury yields climbed after the Bank of England said interest rates probably need to rise sooner, adding to expectations of reduced central bank monetary stimulus around the world. Bond prices have weakened in the past week-and-a-half as investors adjusted for the likelihood of a stronger US economy and higher inflation, which could lead the Federal Reserve to boost interest rates more times than previously anticipated.

The drop in bond prices and the subsequent rise in yields have kept equity investors nervous about higher interest rates and inflation.

“Now we are having acute attention on what happens in the bond markets, so when yields move up there is an unsettling feeling in the equity market. Things haven’t quietened down,” said Jason Ware, chief investment officer and chief economist at Albion Financial Group in Salt Lake City, Utah. “As rates rise, things, as far as equity investors are concerned, are getting worse,” he said. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 762.23 points, or 3.06 percent, to 24,131.12, the S&P 500 lost 72.46 points, or 2.70 percent, to 2,609.2 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 202.47 points, or 2.87 percent, to 6,849.52. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 1.74 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 1.98 percent.

Emerging market stocks lost 1.10 percent. The recent selloff, sparked by last Friday’s jump in Treasury yields, sent the VIX index, Wall Street’s “fear gauge,” sharply higher. The index was back up above the 30 level on Thursday.

An improving outlook internationally is adding to pressure on global fixed income markets. The Bank of England raised its growth forecasts for Britain due to the strong global recovery. “We’ve got yet another confirmation that a major central bank is wringing its hands over the possibility that economic growth is accelerating beyond current capacity,” said Jim Vogel, an interest rate strategist at FTN Financial in Memphis, Tennessee.

Also underpinning yields, US congressional leaders Wednesday reached a two-year budget deal to raise government spending by almost $300 billion. While the deal was a rare display of bipartisanship that should stave off a government shutdown, it looks set to widen the US federal deficit further and could fan inflation. Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 1/32 in price to yield 2.8367 percent, from 2.832 percent late on Wednesday.

European bond yields also rose, lifted by the prospect of increased fiscal spending after Wednesday’s coalition government deal in Germany. Oil prices fell after data showed US crude output had reached record highs and the North Sea’s largest crude pipeline reopened following an outage. US crude oil dropped 1 percent to settle at $61.15 a barrel, while Brent fell 1.1 percent to $64.81. In the foreign exchange market, the dollar was flat after earlier hitting two-week highs against a basket of major currencies as investors reduced bearish bets on the greenback. The dollar index rose 0.03 percent, with the euro down 0.11 percent to $1.2248.

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