Wall Street pulls back from earlier gains as bond yields rise

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New York | Published: February 2, 2018 2:06:58 AM

US stocks pulled back from earlier gains on Thursday as bond yields rose and technology stocks retreated ahead of a host of high-profile earnings.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell unexpectedly last week, indicating a tight labor market. (Reuters)

US stocks pulled back from earlier gains on Thursday as bond yields rose and technology stocks retreated ahead of a host of high-profile earnings.

It has been a rocky week for Wall Street. Mostly robust earnings have been met by rising bond yields as world central banks back away from easy monetary policy.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve held interest rates steady but indicated a more hawkish inflation outlook.

“The selloff is just letting steam out of the kettle,” said Stephen Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco. “Even after proposed policy changes, we still have an (accommodative) monetary policy.”

U.S. Treasury yields rose further after economic indicators seemed to confirm the Fed’s inflation outlook.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell unexpectedly last week, indicating a tight labor market.

Separately, ISM data showed prices paid by U.S. factories hitting a near 7-year high, and fourth-quarter labor costs rose by 2 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 36.32 points, or 0.14 percent, to 26,185.71, the S&P 500 gained 2.01 points, or 0.07 percent, to 2,825.82 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.27 points, or 0.04 percent, to 7,408.21.

Banks, which benefit from higher interest rates, led the S&P 500 financials to a 0.8 percent gain.

Other notable stock movers included eBay, up 15.1 percent after its earnings report, and its announcement that it would move away from PayPal as its main payments partner. PayPal shares slid 6.4 percent.

UPS was down 6.9 percent after it reported fourth-quarter profit that was hurt by higher holiday season shipping costs. The company was the second-biggest percentage loser on the S&P 500.

Analysts see fourth-quarter S&P 500 earnings growth of 14.9 percent, up from 12 percent expected on January 1. So far, of 227 companies that have reported, 79.7 percent have come in above Street estimates.

Tech giants Amazon.com, Alphabet and Apple are due to report after the bell.

Apple is expected to show year-on-year earnings growth of 14.8 percent.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.18-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.01-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 26 new 52-week highs and 8 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 72 new highs and 61 new lows.

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