The rapid rise in bond yields is really making equity markets uneasy. As shown in the Market Snapshot table to the lower right, global equity markets were red for the final week of February, dropping around ‐2% to ‐5%.
Rising bond yields have begun to weigh on equities. Stock indices fell while bond yields continued to climb with the 10‐year U.S. Treasury yield closing the week at 1.34%, up from 1.2% last week and just 0.9% at the start of 2021.
Stocks advanced again this week with the S&P 500 up another +1.2% and closing at its 10th record high of the year. Small company stocks performed even better, gaining +2.5% to put them up nearly +16% in 2021.
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January’s GameStop craze dissipated and equity volatility plunged as investors refocused on the potential for a big stimulus package, encouraging earnings results, and improving Covid‐19 vaccination and hospitalization data.
S&P 500 drops, volatility pops. After starting the month strong, global equity markets mostly gave up their gains as the month ended. The last week of January was the worst week for the S&P 500 since October and January was its first negative month in since October. Volatility (VIX) jumped from 21 to 37.
A mania around heavily‐shorted stocks, weaker than expected GDP data, and disappointing new vaccine results weighed on global stocks this week. Most major indices fell ‐3to‐4%, the worst week since October. The Cboe Volatility Index (VIX) spiked to 33.1 from 21.9 last Friday. However, bonds weren’t bothered much by all the stock commotion as the 10‐year U.S. Treasury yield was down two basis point to 1.07% (though it fell to 1% earlier in the week).
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On Thursday, the S&P 500 set another record high, and most major equity indexes posted solid results for the week. The technology‐heavy, growth‐oriented Nasdaq led with a +4.2% return and the S&P 500 gained +1.9%.
Equities began and ended the week with losses to mark their first weekly decline of the new year. Small companies, however, were able to advance and have now been positive in 10 of the last 11 weeks. The 10‐year Treasury yield rose as high as 1.18% early in the week but then backed off to finish at 1.08%. The 10‐year UST yield began the year at 0.91% and rose for each of the first five days before falling for 3 of the last four.