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US Stocks Pulled Lower by Techs        03/03 15:55

   Stocks closed lower Wednesday as another rise in bond yields fueled concerns 
on Wall Street that higher inflation is on the way as the economy picks up.

   (AP) -- Stocks closed lower Wednesday as another rise in bond yields fueled 
concerns on Wall Street that higher inflation is on the way as the economy 
picks up.

   The S&P 500 dropped 1.3%, shedding an early gain. The pullback is the 
benchmark index's second straight loss after clocking its best day in nine 
months on Monday. Technology companies bore the brunt of the selling, pulling 
the S&P 500's tech sector down 2.5%. Microsoft and Apple were both fell more 
than 2%.

   U.S. government bond yields rose after easing a day earlier. The yield on 
the benchmark 10-year Treasury note climbed to 1.47% from 1.41%.

   When bond yields rise quickly, as they have in recent weeks, it forces Wall 
Street to rethink the value of stocks, making each $1 of profit that companies 
earn a little less valuable. Technology stocks are most vulnerable to this 
reassessment, in large part because their recent dominance left them looking 
even pricier than the rest of the market.

   On the flipside, banks benefit when bond yields rise, because it allows them 
to charge higher rates on mortgages and many other kinds of loans. Financial 
sector stocks were among the biggest gainers Wednesday. Bank of America and 
Citigroup added more than 2%.

   "The good news to remember is there are other groups taking the baton," said 
Ryan Detrick, chief investment strategist for LPL Financial, referring to banks 
and energy companies benefiting from higher rates, even as tech stocks take a 
hit.

   The S&P 500 dropped 50.57 points to 3,819.72. The Dow Jones Industrial 
Average slipped 121.43 points, or 0.4%, to 31,270.09. The technology-heavy 
Nasdaq composite lost 361.04 points, or 2.7%, to 12,997.75.

   Traders also sold off smaller company stocks, dragging down the Russell 2000 
index 23.72 points, or 1.1%, to 2,207.79.

   Wall Street continues to look to Washington, where economic data, comments 
out of the Federal Reserve and President Joe Biden's stimulus package remain 
front and center. Treasury yields hit the psychologically important 1.50% mark 
last week as investors braced for stronger economic growth but also a possible 
increase in inflation.

   "Some higher inflation at the beginning of a new economic expansion is 
perfectly normal," Detrick said.

   On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard sought to calm financial 
markets by emphasizing that the Fed, while generally optimistic about the 
economy, is still far from raising interest rates or reducing its $120 billion 
a month in asset purchases.

   Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell will speak Thursday on monetary policy. 
Investors heard from him last week when he testified in front of Congress, but 
the format -- a question-and-answer session with The Wall Street Journal -- is 
likely to be more illuminating than Powell's calculated answers to politicians.

   Investors are looking ahead to the February jobs report on Friday. 
Economists surveyed by FactSet expect employers created 225,000 jobs last 
month. The report also includes numbers for how much wages are rising across 
the economy, a key component of inflation.

   Overall, the economic outlook has been brightening in recent weeks following 
a surprisingly strong retail sales report which showed that $600 stimulus 
payments approved in late December had translated into a January jump in retail 
sales that was the strongest since June.

   With prospects rising for passage of President Biden's $1.9 trillion 
COVID-19 relief package with $1,400 individual payments and good news on 
vaccine distribution, private forecasters have been busy revising upward their 
economic forecasts.

   Many believe the economy this year could see a rebound with growth coming in 
at the strongest pace since 1984. That would mark a significant rebound from 
last year when the economy contracted by the largest amount since 1946.

 

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