The week on Wall St.
Higher bond yields and a legislative stalemate in Washington, D.C., added up to losses for the week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 1.36%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 2.21%. The Nasdaq Composite index fell 3.20%. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, shed 2.58%.1,2,3
An Ugly Week
The reality of a more hawkish Fed finally hit the bond market, sparking a sell-off in bonds that sent yields higher. Higher yields hurt technology and other high-growth companies, and that weakness spread to the broader market. (Higher yields can reduce the value of a company’s future cash flow, which may reset valuations.)
Congress added to the market uncertainty. It was unable to advance an infrastructure bill, and it made little progress on the debt-ceiling agreement. After a sell-off to close out September, stocks surged on Friday on news of a potential Covid-19 oral therapeutic, an easing of yields, and reports that President Biden was traveling to Capitol Hill to help break the logjam on legislation.
Powell in the News
Fed Chair Jerome Powell was at the center of two news developments last week. The first was the announcement by a prominent senator opposing Powell’s renomination, heightening market uncertainty over the leadership transition when his term expires in February 2022.4
Powell later made comments at a European Central Bank event, admitting that the current bout of inflation may last longer than he and many other central bankers have previously expected. But he remained steadfast that inflation would be transitory, attributing much of today’s price pressures to temporary supply bottlenecks. Powell also said that he saw little evidence of building inflationary expectations from consumers or businesses.5
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