Stocks Rise As Bond Yields Edge Lower; Bank Stocks Fall

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NEW YORK  — Stocks edged higher in afternoon trading on Wall Street Friday as bond yields pulled back slightly from their climb.

The S&P 500 index rose 0.2% as of 1:26 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 134 points, or 0.4%, to 32,727, pulled lower by financial companies. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.9%.

Bank stocks fell after the Federal Reserve announced it would end some emergency measures put into place for the industry last year to help deal with the pandemic.

The S&P 500 index is on track for its first weekly loss in the last three. As interest rates have risen, pricier stocks like technology companies have fallen.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note slipped to 1.72% from 1.73% late Thursday, easing off its continued climb. The security is used to price a multitude of financial products, like the traditional 30-year mortgage, and higher interest rates have given investors some concern that it may slow economic growth.

There are also concerns that the rise in bond yields could be a harbinger of inflation. Fed officials said earlier this week that they may let the U.S. economy “run hot” for some time in order to not stymie the economic recovery as the pandemic eases.

On Friday the Fed announced it would end some of the emergency measures put in place during the pandemic. It will restore some of the capital requirements for big banks that were suspended in the early months of the pandemic, in order to give banks flexibility. The banking industry had hoped those measures would be extended.

The announcement briefly raised concerns about more bond selling, but those fears have been tempered, said Barry Bannister, chief equity strategist at Stifel.

“Overall, the very near term concerns are going back to some of the bigger picture questions,” he said. “How high can yields go and what does that mean for stock valuations.”

Big bank stocks were particularly hurt, since the Fed’s measures mostly apply to the nation’s largest banks. Citigroup fell 0.5%, while Bank of America fell 1% and JPMorgan Chase slipped 2.6%.

Shares of transportation company FedEx leaped 6.4% in early trading after the company reported earnings well above analysts’ estimates.

Shares of Nike fell by 4% after the athletic apparel company said pandemic-caused congestion at ports caused sales to slow in the last quarter.

By DAMIAN J. TROISE - Mar 19. 2021 -1: 36 PM ET



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