Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Stocks waver on Wall Street, U.K. bond yields fall back

by BIZ Magazine

NEW YORK (AP) — Bond markets around the world are relaxing Wednesday after London’s central bank pledged to do whatever’s needed to restore calm in its financial markets.

The move comes amid heightened concerns about the potential for economies worldwide slipping into a recession as the hottest inflation in decades burns businesses and consumers.

Stocks in the U.S. wavered amid recession risks and a long list of other worries hanging over Wall Street. The S&P 500 rose 0.3% as of 10:17 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 59 points, or 0.2%, to 29,193 and the Nasdaq fell less than 0.1%.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury fell sharply to 3.83% from 3.95% late Tuesday, part of a global retreat in yields after the Bank of England said it would buy U.K. government bonds following a recent sell-off. U.K. bonds and the British pound had been plunging on worries that a U.K.. government plan to cut taxes would lead to worse inflation.

European markets were mostly lower.

Markets in Asia tumbled after China’s yuan fell to a 14-year low against the dollar despite central bank efforts to stem the slide. U.S. interest rate hikes have prompted traders to convert money into dollars in search of higher returns.

Stubbornly hot inflation has prompted central banks around the world to raise interest rates and the Fed has been particularly aggressive. It raised its benchmark rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, again last week. It now sits at a range of 3% to 3.25%, but was near zero at the start of the year.

The Fed also has released a forecast suggesting its benchmark rate could be 4.4% by the year’s end, a full percentage point higher than it envisioned in June.

Wall Street is worried that the Fed will hit the brakes too hard on an already slowing economy and veer it into a recession. The higher interest rates have been weighing on stocks, especially pricier technology companies, which tend to look less attractive to investors as rates rise.

Rising interest rates in the U.S. have also helped boost the U.S. dollar’s value and weigh down currencies globally.

U.S. markets have been volatile since the Fed raised interest rates last week and ahead of the upcoming round of corporate earnings as the quarter nears its close. Company and industry news helped move several stocks.

Biogen surged 36% following an encouraging update on a potential Alzheimer’s disease treatment. Apple slipped 3.8% on reports that it planned to temper its iPhone production.

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