Stocks Slump Most in Week; Treasury Bonds Gain: Markets Wrap
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. stocks fell and Treasuries gained as investors mulled whether the levels of stimulus being provided is enough amid a gradual economic recovery.
The benchmark S&P 500 dropped for a second day, though it found some support after bouncing off its 50-day moving average. Technology shares were the biggest decliners, with Apple Inc., FaceBook Inc. and Microsoft Corp. weighing on the Nasdaq Composite.
Investors snapped up long-term Treasuries, capturing a brief spike higher in yields following the Federal Reserve’s policy decision Wednesday. Although Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank will remain accommodative after relaxing its inflation policy, he didn’t provide clarity as to just how high it can go and for how long. That, along with the lack of fresh details on the Fed’s plans for its bond-buying program, sparked long-end demand.
“It remains to be seen how the long-term projection of near zero interest rates and more free-flying inflation will actually play out for the economy,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E*Trade Financial Corp. “The somewhat dour tone from the Fed could weigh on investors.”
Meanwhile, the number of Americans applying for jobless benefits resumed its decline. Continuing claims also fell by almost 1 million in the week ended Sept. 5.
All eyes remain on central bankers and their role in propping up economies still reeling from the coronavirus shock. Bank of England policymakers said they were exploring negative rates to counter ongoing risks to the labor market after voting unanimously to maintain their key interest rate at 0.1%, causing the pound to slide to an intraday low and pushing gilts higher. Earlier the Bank of Japan kept its asset-purchases and bond-yield targets in place.
Recent flare-ups of the virus and a fading post-pandemic recovery have renewed calls for more fiscal support as well. Fed officials have stressed in recent weeks that the U.S. recovery is highly dependent on the nation’s ability to better contain infections, and that further fiscal stimulus is likely needed to support jobs and incomes.
“Consumer sentiment data and the employment picture still reflect a fragile economic recovery,” said Matt Miskin, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock Investments. “Powell did not bring up the need for further fiscal support multiple times yesterday just for the sake of it. Monetary policy has its limits, the lack of fiscal policy support leaves significant risks to this recovery.”
Elsewhere, crude oil climbed above $40 a barrel. Natural gas prices tumbled the most in almost two years after a bigger-than expected increase in stockpiles revived concerns that the glut of the fuel will increase. Gold declined.
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