Stocks were losing steam early in Friday’s trading session as banks found themselves under pressure the day after a consortium of 11 big U.S. banks had banded together to deposit $30 billion into First Republic (FRC) in a bid to stabilize the banking system.
Near 10:50 a.m. ET stock were trading near sessions lows, with the S&P 500 (^GSPC) down 1.2% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) off 1.4%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) fell 1% after spending some time in green figures earlier in the trading session.
After a negative open, investors reacted positively to the day’s biggest economic data point, the preliminary read on consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan, which showed inflation expectations falling to the lowest level since April 2021.
The report also noted its survey was 85% complete at the time of Silicon Valley Bank’s failure, meaning initial reactions to that event from consumers won’t roll in until later this month. Tech stocks initially moved higher on this news, as lower inflation expectations potentially signal less aggressive Fed rates hikes, which are good for tech stocks.
Shortly after this move higher, tech stocks followed the S&P 500 and Dow into red figures.
Stocks had rallied sharply on Thursday after news broke throughout the day that big banks led by JPMorgan (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC) were set to infuse First Republic with capital in what amounted to an industry bailout of the struggling bank.
The firms eventually announced their deal to backstop First Republic about a half hour before the market close.
Speaking with Yahoo Finance Live on Thursday, longtime banking analyst Dick Bove said following these moves the near-term banking crisis is “over.”
Shares of First Republic, which were halted for volatility multiple times on Thursday, were down about 20% early Friday along with broader banking sector.
Investors were also tracking the price of crude oil, with WTI crude down nearly 3% to trade near $66.40 a barrel, a roughly 15-month low as oil prices have come under heavy pressure in the last week.
The Treasury market will also remain a focus, with the 10-year yield standing near 3.48% early Friday, just over a week after topping 4%.
In a note to clients on Thursday, analysts at Bespoke Investment Group highlighted how some of the recent volatility in the Treasury market — in particular with shorter-dated Treasuries that tend to be more sensitive to Fed expectations — has likely come from “forced (that is, non-discretionary) buying and selling, and the prices that price-insensitive buyers or sellers agree to are not necessarily incorporating all information available.”
“Another example is the massive inflow of cash to money market funds this week reported by ICI: total fund assets rose by 2.5% or $121bn, and money funds are forced to put that cash to work adding to short-term interest rate buying pressure,” the firm wrote. “Collapsing bill yields and very high volatility are consistent with the idea that the money fund flows are forcing purchases in specific markets.”
In a note to clients on Friday, Thomas Mathews, senior markets economist at Capital Economics, echoed this view, noting the front-end of the Treasury curve now implies the Fed’s benchmark interest rate ending 2023 about 2 percentage points below where investors expected just a week ago.
“There’s a good chance, in our view, that investors are now underestimating how much central bankers will raise rates over the next couple of months,” Mathews wrote. “As such, we suspect the rally in short-dated bonds could go into reverse.”
The Fed will announce its next policy decision on Wednesday, March 22, with investors pricing in a roughly 80% chance the central bank raises rates by another 0.25%, according to data from the CME Group.
Friday also marks quadruple witching in U.S. markets, with contracts on single-stock options and futures, as well as index options and futures, all expiring at today’s close.
There will also be a reshuffle in some sectors of the S&P 500, with S&P reclassifying 14 stocks in the index into new sectors as of today’s close.
The most notable names on the move include Target (TGT), Dollar General (DG), and Dollar Tree (DLTR), which will move from the Consumer Discretionary (XLY) sector to Consumer Staples (XLP). Other notable companies moving sectors include Visa (V), Mastercard (MA), and PayPal (PYPL), which will move from Technology (XLK) into Financials (XLF).
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