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US stocks slide as inflation jitters roil investors

2021-02-23 HKT 05:31
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  • Wall Street ended lower, with investors sidelined ahead of comments by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. File photo: Shutterstock
    Wall Street ended lower, with investors sidelined ahead of comments by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. File photo: Shutterstock
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both closed lower on Monday as climbing Treasury yields and prospects of rising inflation triggered valuation concerns, hitting shares of high-flying growth companies.

Some analysts noted that the pullback was expected after a torrid rally this year and in 2020.

"This is a small pullback primarily because stocks got a little overheated and there are a few worries out there that people are making mountains of out molehills," said Brian Reynolds, chief market strategist, at Reynolds Strategy.

He cited worries about the rise in Treasury yields, but noted that junk bond yields hit all-time lows last week, suggesting there has been a shift from the safety of Treasuries to the riskiness of corporates among investors.

"That's bullish for stocks," he added.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is scheduled to speak before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, and investors are expected to look for any potential changes to the central bank's dovish outlook. "What investors are grappling with ... is what does this (higher Treasury yields) mean from an inflation perspective. Because of that, there's a little bit of tantrum in the market right now," said Lindsey Bell, chief investment strategist at Ally Invest, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Shares of Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Tesla and Amazon resumed their slide from the previous week.

Largely upbeat fourth-quarter earnings had powered Wall Street's main indexes to record highs early last week, but the rally lost steam, in part due to fears of a potential snag in US vaccination efforts and inflation concerns emanating from stimulus measures.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was virtually unchanged, edging down 0.1 percent to 31,521.

The S&P 500 lost 0.8 percent to 3,876 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.5 percent to 13,533.

The S&P 500 declined for five straight sessions, its longest such streak in a year.

Value stocks have outperformed growth shares in February, with investors betting on a rebound in industrial activity and a pickup in consumer demand as countries roll out vaccines to tame the pandemic. (Reuters)