Stocks Lose Financial Footing
Financial issues were weighing on the market midday Monday, as investors were positioning themselves ahead of another expected Fed rate hike next week.
In recent trading, both the S&P financial sector index and the Amex Broker/Dealer Index were losing 0.4%, albeit up from earlier lows.
Weakness in financials such as AIG (AIG), American Express (AXP) and J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) also was weighing on blue chips. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was recently down 31.37 points, or 0.29%, to 10,846.14.
The broader market was hit as crude oil prices topped $60 per barrel for the first time since early November. The S&P 500 was recently down 2.68 points, or 0.21%, to 1262.40. The The Nasdaq Composite was down 14.24 points, or 0.63%, to 2259.13.With the financial sector representing more than 20% of the S&P 500's market capitalization, it's an understatement to say that the sector's rally helped the market bounce from the October lows. Financials have been the best-performing sector of the S&P since early October, rising 4% in the fourth quarter to date. The sector has risen another 1% in December, as of Friday's close. The rally corresponded with a drop in long-bond yields in November -- from 4.66% in early November to 4.41% by the end of the month. But as mentioned here, long-dated Treasury yields interrupted four weeks of declines last week. On Monday, the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond was recently down 10/32, while its yield was up to 4.55%. The latest weakness in bonds followed the non-manufacturing survey by the Institute for Supply Management, which confirmed the strong economic outlook implied in recent data. Rising long-term Treasury yields, which reflect inflation expectations, can be bad for financials by reducing the appetite for risk in the overall investment environment. But things can get worse if the yield curve, which plots the yields of short- to longer-term bonds, flattens. Many financial firms, especially banks, profit from borrowing at cheaper short-term rates to lend at more profitable long-term rates.
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