Treasury rout sinks Dow 665 points on rate angst

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The Dow tumbled 665 points, or 2.5%, in the biggest plunge since June 2016, as the worsening bond rout stirred angst that the Fed will accelerate its rate hike schedule.

Solid jobs data that underscored the strength of the economy sent bond bulls scurrying and rattled equity investors who haven’t seen a week this bad in two years.

The S&P 500 slid more than 59 points, or 2.1%, and the Nasdaq sank nearly 145 points, or 2%. The Dow lost roughly 1,000 points since Monday's opening bell.

The selling accelerated after Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan suggested officials may need to hike more than three times this year to cool the advance. The 10-year Treasury yield popped above 2.85% for the first time since January 2014.

“Yields have risen, inflation evidence is rising rather broadly. It’s that combo of factors that’s starting to mount,” says Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Leuthold Weeden. “And then you get a report, and that’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and that’s kind of what we got into today.”

There was nowhere to hide on the stock market, with all 11 S&P 500 sectors lower. The index’s five-day rout reached 3.9% — marking its first pullback of at least that much in a record 404 days. Energy shares sank 4.1% as earnings disappointed and crude slumped. The tech selloff worsened, sending the Nasdaq 100 lower by 2.1%. Its weekly rout hit 3.7%, most since February 2006. Not even a record rally at could rescue the measure, as the world’s biggest company, Apple hit its lowest since October.

The gains in the blue-chip index happened the same day the Nasdaq 100 saw its biggest decline since September, their biggest divergence since the Internet bubble burst.
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“People are finally starting to reprice reflation, it’s about time,” says Jeanne Asseraf-Bitton, head of global cross-asset research at Lyxor Asset Management. “Global economic growth is strong and corporate earnings are very solid, so there’s no reason to question the equity bull market. The rise in bond yields is good, it’s just the speed at which it’s happening that is making investors nervous. Bottom line: this is a healthy correction.”

U.S. hiring picked up in January and wages rose at the fastest annual pace since the recession ended, as the economy’s steady move toward full employment extended into 2018. Equities are being tested by the surge in bond yields, with some fund managers saying 3% U.S. 10-year rates would signal a bond bear market. The level is seen by many stock-watchers as a potential trigger for a correction in equities.

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In Europe, a bond selloff deepened across the continent, and equities dropped for a fifth straight day, the longest streak since November. Disappointing results from companies including Deutsche Bank and BT Group paced losses, with Germany’s DAX giving up the year’s gains, capping the worst weekly decline since 2016. Bund yields reached a fresh two-year high, while the euro and British pound weakened. Japanese debt gained and the yen declined after the Bank of Japan intervened to stem the rise in rates.

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