Stocks edged mostly higher Monday afternoon but were still on track for a losing September as investors fretted over rising bond yields and the Federal Reserve’s plans to hold interest rates high.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average
fell 28 points, or less than 0.1%, to 33,936, after flipping positive earlier and declining as much as 183 points at its session low.
- The S&P 500
erased a modest early loss to rise 6 points, or 0.2%, to 4,327.
- The Nasdaq Composite
was up 25 points, or 0.2%, at 13,236.
Last week, the S&P 500 fell 2.9%, its biggest weekly decline since the period that ended on March 10, and finished at its lowest level since June 9. The Dow ended Friday at its lowest level since July 10, while the Nasdaq saw its lowest close since June 7.
What’s driving markets
A rapid climb in long-term interest rates continued to set the tone across markets, decreasing the present value of future corporate earnings and weighing on stocks. The yield on the 10-year Treasury
briefly rose by more than 9 basis points to touch 4.53% and was on track for its highest close since Oct. 17, 2007.
“Markets walked away from last week’s Federal Reserve meeting with more confidence that rates will be higher for longer, and that’s putting downward pressure on equities,” said Keith Buchanan, senior portfolio manager at Globalt Investments in Atlanta, which oversees about $2.5 billion.
Another factor stoking concerns about the outlook is oil prices, which have risen sharply since summer. Brent crude
the global benchmark, and West Texas Intermediate crude
the U.S. benchmark, are both near $90 a barrel.
“Inflation seems stickier, and a lot of news has turned not as positive,” Buchanan said via phone. That’s adding to concerns that the stock market, which has rallied over the past year, “is at a challenging level to continue to post gains.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. government is barreling toward a partial shutdown Sunday morning. While stocks have managed to withstand similar scenarios before, “there’s growing concern over the potential that this could be a little bit more impactful than shutdowns in the past,” Buchanan said. “The market is becoming more aware of the potential for a more drawn-out shutdown.”
Market bulls nonetheless remain confident that the stock market’s pullback from its late July highs remains a “garden variety” correction. The S&P 500 remains up more than 12% this year.
“We are expecting a 5% to 10% pullback in the S&P 500 from its late July high, but we don’t see the S&P 500 falling meaningfully below 4,200. That level puts us right in the sweet spot of a correction, and it’s also near the index’s 200-day moving average, so we have good support at 4,200,” said Mary Ann Bartels, chief investment strategist at Indianapolis-based Sanctuary Wealth, which manages $25 billion in assets.
“We are buyers of this pullback, especially if the S&P 500 falls near 4,200,” Bartels said in emailed comments.
On the labor front, union leaders and Hollywood studios reached a tentative deal Sunday to end a historic screenwriters strike after nearly five months. No deal appeared in the works, however, for striking actors.
Separately, President Joe Biden is expected to join United Auto Workers union members on the picket line on Tuesday in Michigan as they strike against the Big Three automakers — Ford Motor Co.
General Motors Co.
and Chrysler owner Stellantis NV
UAW strike: Labor leaders stand with striking workers
The housing crisis in China was back in the news, with Evergrande shares
slumping 21.8% as the company scrapped a debt-restructuring plan, while shares of China Aoyuan Group
dropped 72.5% on Monday in their first day of trading in more than a year. The Hang Seng
finished 1.8% lower in Hong Kong trading.
Companies in focus
- The tentative end of the Hollywood writers strike was unable to lift media companies like Warner Brothers Discover Inc.
and Walt Disney Co.
Shares of all three were lower, failing to follow through on premarket gains. Netflix Inc. shares
however, were higher.
- Amazon.com Inc.
said on Monday that it would invest up to $4 billion in artificial-intelligence startup Anthropic and take a minority stake in the company to accelerate the development of its future foundation models and make them accessible to customers of its cloud business, AWS. Amazon shares rose 1.6%.
Steve Goldstein contributed.
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