US stocks slip in mixed trading as rate pressure ratchets up

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In this photo provided by the New York Stock Exchange, traders Gregory Rowe, foreground left, and Neil Catania, right, work on the floor. Tuesday, March 30, 2021. U.S. stock indexes are edging lower in midday trading on Tuesday as another swell higher for Treasury yields adds pressure on big technology stocks. (Colin Ziemer/New York Stock Exchange via AP)

Rising Treasury yields put pressure once more on big technology companies Tuesday, pulling U.S. stock indexes further below their recent all-time highs.

The S&P 500 lost 0.3%. Health care stocks also dragged down the market, outweighing gains by banks, industrial stocks and companies that rely on consumer spending. Smaller companies bucked the downward trend, powering the Russell 2000 index to a 1.7% gain.

Treasury yields perked higher after a report showed that consumers are feeling even more confident than economists expected, a big deal for an economy that’s primarily made up of consumer spending. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden was set to unveil details Wednesday about plans to spend what could be more than $3 trillion on infrastructure and other measures to help the economy and environment.

The consumer confidence report, and the prospect of more massive government spending, fueled a sell-off in U.S. bonds, driving their yields higher.

“This is spooking debt investors,” said Megan Horneman, director of portfolio strategy at Verdence Capital Advisors.

The S&P 500 slid 12.54 to 3,958.55, its second decline in a row. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 104.41 from the all-time high it set a day before, or 0.3%, to 33,066.96. The Nasdaq composite fell 14.25, or 0.1%, to 13,045.39. The Russell 2000 rose 37.11 to 2,195.80.

The spotlight was again on the bond market, where the yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.73% from 1.72% late Monday. It has jumped from roughly 0.90% at the start of the year with rising expectations for coming economic growth and possibly inflation.

When bonds pay more in interest, they can make investors less willing to pay high prices for stocks, particularly those seen as the most expensive. Companies that ask their investors to wait years for big profit growth to come to fruition are also hard hit, which has many big technology stocks feeling the most pain from rising rates.

Broadcom fell 3.5% and Cisco Systems dropped 1.4%. Tech giants also fell, including a 1.2% slide by Apple and a 1.4% drop by Microsoft. They were some of the biggest winners earlier in the pandemic, rallying on expectations that they can grow in the future, regardless of whether the economy is locked down by a virus.

Despite the pressure on big tech stocks, most professional investors remain optimistic that the broader market can keep rising. A stronger economy thanks to COVID-19 vaccinations and massive spending by the U.S. government should help boost profits for many companies this year, particularly those like banks, energy producers and industrial companies.

Much of the market’s choppiness is reflecting that expectation. Investors have been shifting money away from companies like Amazon and Netflix, which benefited from a world on lockdown, to airlines, automakers and others that are poised to benefit from a broader reopening.

“Big picture-wise, we’re moving in the direction of a rebalance trade,” said Greg Bassuk, chairman and CEO of AXS Investments. “In the next immediate period we’re going to continue to see significant volatility.”

Financial stocks rallied, in part because higher longer-term interest rates mean bigger profits from making loans.

Big financial stocks also climbed as investors see losses for the industry due to soured trades for a big U.S. hedge fund last week staying isolated to a few players, rather than cascading through the financial system. Japanese bank Nomura and Swiss bank Credit Suisse said Monday that they’re facing potentially significant losses because of their dealings with a major client. Nomura estimated the claim against its client could be about $2 billion. JPMorgan banking analyst Kian Abouhossein said in a research note Tuesday that the total overall losses could range between $5 billion to $10 billion.

Comerica gained 5.1%. Goldman Sachs rose 1.9%, and Morgan Stanley gained 1.6%. Reports said the two financial giants were able to limit their losses by quickly selling stocks held by the hedge fund, which amassed big ownership stakes in companies using borrowed money. The banks have not named the fund, but reports have identified it as Archegos Capital Management.

ViacomCBS and Discovery rose 3.6% and 5.4%, respectively, snapping a multiday slump. The stocks had been in a skid, reportedly as part of heavy selling related to the Archegos saga.

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AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama contributed.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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