Global stocks are falling Thursday as interest rates in the U.S. continue to rise. The S&P 500 index is on track for its biggest drop in more than three months as internet and technology companies fall. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note is rising further after hitting a seven-year high a day ago.
Strong reports on job gains and the service industry have sent bond prices tumbling over the last two days as traders bet the U.S. economy will keep growing. Government bonds are stable investments that look most appealing when economic growth is shaky. But the big drop in bond prices is sending interest rates sharply higher, a development that worries investors because it can eventually slow economic growth by making borrowing more expensive for consumers and businesses.
Google’s parent company Alphabet is down 3 percent in afternoon trading while Apple, Microsoft and Amazon are down about 2 percent each. The drop ends three months of relative calm on the stock market as investors were heartened by the state of the economy and were growing less concerned about trade tensions between the U.S., China and other countries. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high Wednesday.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index skidded 24 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,902 at closing time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 201 points, or 0.8 percent, to 26,628. The Nasdaq composite fell 146 points, or 1.8 percent, to 7,880. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 222 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,649.
YIELDS SURGE: Bond prices fell again. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 3.19 percent from 3.16 percent. The 10-year yield is at its highest level since May 2011 following encouraging signs on hiring by private companies and growth for services companies.
That data suggests the economy should keep growing at a solid pace. That translates to bigger profits for U.S. companies and continued increases in interest rates by the Federal Reserve, which raises rates to keep inflation in check. But as interest rates rise, it becomes more expensive for consumers and businesses to borrow money, and growth gradually slows.
The S&P 500 rose as much as 16 points Wednesday but weakened at the end of trading and finished with a gain of just 2 points.
THE QUOTE: Sameer Samana, strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute, said that after months of positive economic data, traders in the bond market are selling because they’ve decided yields are too low for them to get a good return on their investments.
“Economic data for months has been strengthening,” he said. “The bond market has completely ignored it until recently.”
Samana said investors aren’t shying away from the stock market, because they’re buying shares of companies that have been left out of the market’s recent gains. Bank stocks are flat this year, while the S&P 500 index of industrial companies is up 4 percent and energy companies have risen about 7 percent. The S&P 500 itself is up 8 percent.
BIG TURNAROUND: Stocks that have led the market this year took sharp losses. Apple fell 1.7 percent to $228.04 and Microsoft lost 2.3 percent to $112.49. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, lost 3.1 percent to $1,173.77 and Facebook sank 2.3 percent to $2.4 percent to $158.53. Amazon gave up 2.3 percent to $1,907.61.
Banks, which rallied Wednesday, kept rising. Higher yields mean they make bigger profits on mortgages and other types of loans. Bank of America added 1.2 percent to $30.37 and Wells Fargo rose 1.5 percent to $53.46.
OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 sank 1.5 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 tumbled 1.2 percent. The DAX in Germany lost 0.4 percent as trading resumed after a national holiday.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index sank 1.7 percent and Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 0.6 percent while the Kospi in South Korea sank 1.5 percent.
Shares sank in India as the rupee continued to weaken and investors worried about the country’s trade deficit thanks to surging costs for oil imports. The Sensex index fell 2.2 percent.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude slid 2.7 percent to $74.33 per barrel in New York. U.S. crude hit four-year highs this week. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 2 percent to $84.58 per barrel in London.
Wholesale gasoline lost 1.7 percent to $2.10 a gallon. Heating oil slipped 1.5 percent to $2.40 a gallon. Natural gas fell 2 percent to $3.17 per 1,000 cubic feet.
BOOK SALE?: Barnes & Noble climbed 19.5 percent to $6.53 after the bookseller said it will review offers from potential buyers, including one from founder and chairman Leonard Riggio, the company’s biggest shareholder. Even after Thursday’s gain, Barnes & Noble stock is slightly lower in 2018 and has lost almost two-thirds of its value since July 2015.
METALS: Gold fell 0.1 percent to $1,201.60 an ounce. Silver lost 0.5 percent to $14.59 an ounce. Copper dropped 2 percent to $2.78 a pound.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 113.76 yen from 114.34. The euro slipped to $1.1508 from $1.1517.
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