The Week on Wall Street
Stocks were mixed last week as rising bond yields and heightening inflation fears sent stocks on a wild ride, capped by a remarkable Friday afternoon rally. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.82%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 increased by 0.81%. The Nasdaq Composite index fell 2.06% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, rose 0.76%.1,2,3
Rising Yields Whipsaw Stocks
The week began on an ebullient note as stocks surged on a retreat in bond yields and approval of a new vaccine, with sharp gains in reopening stocks, hard-hit technology companies, and small-cap companies. But the optimism proved fleeting as worries over rising bond yields upended the high valuation growth stocks and sent the broader market lower. Deteriorating investor sentiment culminated in a steep sell-off on Thursday, sparked by comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell that did little to allay investors’ concerns about rising yields and festering inflation anxieties.4 Stock prices rallied on a strong employment report on Friday, but some of the enthusiasm was tempered by rising yields.
U.S. Dollar’s Surprising Strength
Last week, the U.S. dollar gained 0.93% against a basket of international currencies—a relatively big move in the currency market. Year-to-date the dollar has appreciated over 2%.5
U.S. dollar strength this year has defied the expectations of many analysts who anticipated that a global economic recovery would prompt a shift away from the safe harbor of the dollar toward non-dollar denominated assets. However, rising U.S. yields and a faltering economic rebound in Europe have instead propelled the U.S. dollar higher, raising concerns about tight financial conditions abroad and its potential adverse impact on an emerging markets recovery.
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