U.S. stocks fell Tuesday as major technology shares came under pressure again after the 10-year Treasury yield touched its highest level since January 2020.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 104.41 points, or 0.3%, to 33,066.96, slipping from a record closing high. Apple and Microsoft were among the biggest losers in the 30-stock Dow, falling more than 1% each. The S&P 500 slid 0.3% to 3,958.55, led by losses in consumer staples and technology. The Nasdaq Composite ended the session 0.1% lower at 13,045.39. The tech-heavy benchmark was down more than 1% at one point.
The 10-year Treasury yield climbed 6 basis points to top 1.77% earlier Tuesday, hitting its highest level in 14 months as vaccine rollouts and expected infrastructure spending boosted the outlook for a broad economic recovery and rising inflation. The benchmark rate later turned flat at 1.72%.
“There’s two different sides to rising rates — is it being driven by fears of inflation or by optimism about the economy? And lately it’s been driven more by optimism about the economy,” said Tom Hainlin, global investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
Investors digested a reading on consumer confidence that far exceeded expectations. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index surged in March to 109.7, its highest reading in a year. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected the index to rise to 96.8 from 90.4 in February.
Classic reopening plays rallied after the data release. American Airlines jumped more than 5%, while United Airlines popped more than 3%. Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line both climbed at least 3%.
The market experienced heightened volatility this week amid the continued fallout after a hedge fund was forced to liquidate its position in several media stocks.
ViacomCBS and Discovery both rebounded after registering heavy losses last week prompted by Archegos Capital Management selling large blocks of stocks late last week. Discovery jumped more than 5%, while ViacomCBS rose 3.6%.
Wells Fargo advanced more than 2% after the bank said it didn’t experience losses related to closing out its exposure to Archegos.
Other bank stocks also staged a comeback. Goldman Sachs climbed 1.9%. JPMorgan and Bank of America also rose more than 1% each.
Credit Suisse and Nomura posted heavy losses this week after warning of “significant” hits to first-quarter results following the hedge fund’s selling.
Despite the recent volatility, the Dow and S&P 500 are firmly higher for the month, gaining 6.9% and 3.9%, respectively.
President Joe Biden is expected to provide details about his infrastructure plan when he travels to Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The spending package could cost north of $3 trillion.
“The significant tailwinds propelling equities higher and the forces that have driven equities into, during, and now out of the pandemic remain,” analysts at Evercore ISI wrote in a note to clients.
“Investors seem to understand that faster growth, rising earnings growth expectations, still historically low corporate borrowing costs, and pent up consumer demand will fuel further market gains,” the firm added.
Evercore envisions the pace of gains slowing, however, with equities already pricing in a reacceleration of growth.
Wild swings could hit the market later this week when pension funds and other big investors conduct their quarter-end rebalancing. The recent jump in bond yields could set up money managers for big moves in their portfolios.