The US stock market is taking it on the chin again Tuesday, plummeting on worries about sustained high inflation that pushed bond yields higher. The debt ceiling debate raging in Washington doesn’t help market sentiment either.
The Dow (INDU) dropped 600 points, or 1.7%, in the early afternoon, while the S&P 500 (SPX) was down nearly 2.1%. Tech stocks are leading the losses across the board, pulling the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite (COMP) down 2.8% in the early afternoon. The 10-year Treasury bond yield, which is sensitive to inflation expectations, rose to 1.52%. Bond yields and prices move in opposition to each other.
Remarks about inflation from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell spooked investors this morning and pushed bond yields higher.
“Inflation is elevated and will likely remain so in coming months before moderating,” Powell said in prepared remarks before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
“The supply-side restrictions that are so much at the heart of the inflation we’re seeing … in some cases they’ve gotten worse,” Powell told lawmakers at the hearing.
Powell and Yellen testify
Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testified before Congress Tuesday regarding the pandemic and the CARES Act.
Yellen told lawmakers that the government will run out of cash and face extraordinary measures by October 18 if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling.”Deficits have been run under both Democratic and Republican administrations. It’s important to recognize that,” Yellen said. “And that means paying the bills for those deficits is a shared responsibility and it should not be the responsibility of anyone party.”While policymakers are busy in Washington, American consumers are growing less confident. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index declined for the third month in a row in September “as the spread of the Delta variant continued to dampen optimism,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board. It’s not just stocks, bonds, and the economy making investors uneasy.
There’s also a route in the energy market, where prices are soaring. One of the issues is a shortage of natural gas triggered by low stockpiles and a jump in demand as production activity ramps up from the Covid-19 lull. Natural gas futures for October were up 2.4% around midday.