Suddenly, rising interest rates matter to the stock market again.
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Stocks traded lower Thursday, as interest rates moved higher and tech was under pressure. The yield on the bench mark 10-year Treasury note edged up to 2.93 percent, a four-week high, and traders were watching to see if the yield would regain its February high, a key level that could signal a break out.
The next test for stocks will be if the 10-year Treasury yield returns to that February high of 2.957 percent and holds above it. The yield hit that level just after the stock market made a low in a correction sparked by rising interest rates and inflation fears.
Friday has no major economic data, but there are a few Federal Reserve speakers, and it’s been the chorus of hawkish Fed speakers this week that have helped drive up interest rates. Yields, which move opposite price, were higher across the curve. The 2-year, which is most sensitive to Fed policy, rose to 2.43 percent.
Chicago Fed President Charles Evans speaks Friday at 9:40 a.m., and even the normally dovish Evans has said recently he thinks the Fed should raise rates and that inflation is rising. San Francisco Fed President John Williams speaks at 11:15 a.m. In June, he moves to the powerful New York Fed.
Later in the day, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari appears on CNBC at 2:15 p.m. ET.
“Today was the first day interest rates came back into the conversation in a long time,” said Scott Redler, partner and technical strategist with T3Live.com. He said the market had been obsessing about geopolitical events like the bombing of Syria and trade talk and tariffs.
“Today was a healthy pull back day that was very controlled,” said Redler.
The S&P 500 lost 15.51 to close at 2,693.13 Thursday, while the Nasdaq slid 57.18 to 7,238.06 on weakness in tech. A warning from Taiwan Semiconductor weighed on U.S. chip stocks like Nvidia and Micron. But Apple also fell as analysts warned iPhone sales may be lower based on Taiwan Semi’s comment that weak demand in the mobile sector was the reason for its lowered revenue guidance.
Commodities continue to gain and a popular index, the Commodities Research Bureau CRB index was at a more than 2-1/2 year high. The move in commodities has stirred up talk in the bond market of inflation, another catalyst for higher yields. Oil, however, settled slightly lower Thursday, with West Texas Intermediate at $68.29 per barrel, after flirting with $70.
“Commodities usually rally when you get to the tail end of a major [stocks] rally. Commodities are the last thing to go. Commodities being more expensive don’t help anybody,” said Redler. “Healthy markets are led by tech, they’re led by banks and they’re led by small caps.”
Banks did rally as rates rose Thursday, with the SPDR S&P Bank ETF up 1.9 percent.
Redler said traders are watching to see if the S&P 500 holds the 2,670 level, a key support level. “I would probably think we digest above today’s lows. The next spot to get above is 2,717, yesterday’s highs, but I don’t think that will happen [Friday],” he said.
He said Thursday’s pull back “shook the tree a little bit. Now let the market prove that it can hang above 2,670 and show that it can get back to 2,717. Next week, you’ll have a lot of key earnings, like Google, Amazon, Facebook.”
There are 170 S&P 500 companies reporting earnings next week, with 66 on Thursday alone.