Wall Street opened lower on Monday, giving back part of last week’s gains, as the sudden unwinding of a hedge fund ricocheted across markets.
On Friday, the S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq closed higher by more than 1%, with the broader market posting its best in three weeks. However, traders were watching several big stocks like Viacom (VIA) and Discovery (DISC), after a volatile session on Friday saw several names take a hit linked to liquidation by Bill Hwang, a fund manager and the ex-head of Tiger Management’s family office.
Bloomberg News reported that Hwang’s firm, Archegos Capital Management, was forced by its banks to sell more than $20 billion worth of shares after some positions moved against him. In a related move, Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse (CS) warned that the volatility stemming from the firm’s liquidation would force the bank to take a “highly significant” hit to its first quarter results.
The week will be mostly quiet until Friday, when the March jobs report is released. The data are expected to show the economy created a whopping 630,00 jobs — the most since October 2019 and the best the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Markets were largely calm amid news that the massive ship marooned in the Suez Canal was finally dislodged after nearly a week, which should pave the way for ending the blockage that’s created a shipping traffic jam in one of the world’s most important shipping lanes. Efforts there had put upward pressure on oil and natural gas prices, given that the canal is a busy thoroughfare for energy exports.
The past couple weeks have been marked by choppy equity trading, especially heading into some of the final sessions of the first quarter. But overall, the cyclical energy, financials and industrials sectors – or the biggest under-performers of 2020 – have outperformed strongly for the year-to-date, while last year’s leading technology companies have lagged. Signs of improving economic growth have trickled in, with Thursday’s bigger-than-expected drop in new unemployment claims to a pandemic-era low among the latest positive reports.
A prevailing concern for many investors, however, has in fact been centered on the pace of economic expansion, and whether the stimulus-aided post-pandemic recovery might barrel forward even more vigorously than expected and stir up rapid inflation. In the wake of passing a $2 trillion stimulus package, the Biden administration is gearing up for even more spending — and the likelihood of higher taxes.
“You can be sure the spending with have a multiplier less than zero and tax increases are always an economic drag with the extent the only difference,” noted Peter Boockvar, Chief Investment Officer at Bleakley Advisory Group.
Still, Federal Reserve policymakers have recently tried to assuage market participants’ fears over a sharp rise in inflation. On NPR’s Morning Edition Thursday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell reaffirmed that the Fed remained strongly committed to targeting 2% average inflation over time, and said that any eventual pullback in Fed support would be done “gradually, over time, and with great transparency.”
11:00 a.m. ET: Pfizer, Moderna COVID shots highly effective
A new study shows that the two leading COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against blocking the coronavirus after one shot — and are even more so after the booster. The CDC report of vaccinated health care workers showed that two doses are better than one — with the efficacy rate jumping from 80% to 90% two weeks after the 2nd dose.
10:45 a.m. ET: Will the housing market suffer a rate shock? It depends
The team over at Bankrate is mulling whether the run-up in benchmark Treasury rates will spell the end of the housing boom. The answer, like a Facebook relationship status update, is complicated:
Housing experts say an uptick in mortgage rates won’t cool this hot housing market — but a more pronounced increase, say to 4 percent or higher, could slow price appreciation.
“Unless rates go massively up, I don’t see a massive effect on prices,” says Ziggy Jonsson, head of financial products at mortgage company Better.com.
Mortgage rates fell below 3 percent in 2020, and home prices jumped more than 10 percent for the year, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. In theory, rising rates could slow the pace of home price appreciation, says Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at real estate brokerage Redfin.
“That’s because even small upticks in the cost of borrowing tend to decrease the number of people looking to purchase,” she says.
10:15 a.m. ET: Suez canal traffic resumes, Reuters reports
Per Reuters, the dislodging of the Ever Given — the hapless ship that was beached in the Suez Canal for nearly a week — has allowed the resulting traffic jam to clear, the canal authority said in a statement on Monday:
A Reuters witness saw the ship moving and a shipping tracker and Egyptian TV showed it positioned in the center of the canal.
9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks open to the downside as margin call bites
S&P 500 (^GSPC): 3,969.73, -4.81 (-0.12%)
Dow (^DJI): 33,058.66, -14.22 (-0.04%)
Nasdaq (^IXIC): 13,137.48, -1.24 (-0.01%)
Crude (CL=F): $60.47 per barrel, -$0.50 (-0.82%)
Gold (GC=F): $1,722.40 per barrel, -$9.90( -0.57%)
10-year Treasury (^TNX): flat, yielding 1.658%
8 a.m. ET: Stocks dip ahead of quiet week, jobs data
Here’s where markets were trading ahead of the opening bell Monday morning:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,950.25, -14.50 (-0.37%)
Dow futures (YM=F): 32,812.00,-142.00 (-0.43%)
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,954.50, -12.25 (-0.09%)
Crude (CL=F): $61.40 per barrel, +$0.43 (+0.71%)
Gold (GC=F): $1,724.70 per ounce, -$7.60, (-0.44%)
10-year Treasury (^TNX): flat yielding 1.6600