Stocks cut losses as bank shares rebound, reopening plays outperform

Stocks cut losses as bank shares rebound, reopening plays outperform

U.S. stocks pared losses on Tuesday as shares tied to a a smooth reopening outperformed amid strong economic data, while bank stocks spooked by a margin-call blowup rebounded.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 60 points, slipping from a record closing high, but traded off its lowest level when it fell 130 points. The S&P 500 traded 0.2% lower after sliding 0.7% earlier. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.2% as the jump in bond yields eased. The tech-heavy benchmark was down more than 1% at one points.

The 10 year Treasury yield climbed 6 basis points to top 1.77% earlier Tuesday, the highest level in 14 months as vaccine rollouts and expected infrastructure spending boosted expectations of a broad economic recovery and rising inflation. The benchmark rate last traded at 1.74%.

Investors digested a reading on consumer confidence that far exceeded expectations. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index surged in March to 109.7, its highest reading in a year. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected the index to rise to 96.8 from 90.4 in February.

Classic reopening plays rallied after the data release. American Airlines jumped 4%, while United Airline popped more than 3%. Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean all traded at least 3% higher.

The market experienced heightened volatility this week amid the continued fallout after a hedge fund was forced to liquidate its position in several media stocks.

ViacomCBS and Discovery both rebounded on Monday after registering heavy losses last week prompted by Archegos Capital Management selling large blocks of stock late last week, as reported by CNBC and other outlets.

Some bank stocks also bounced back. Goldman Sachs climbed 2.2%. JPMorgan and Bank of America rose more than 1% each.

Credit Suisse and Nomura posted heavy losses this week after warning of “significant” hits to first-quarter results following the hedge fund’s selling.

Still, despite the recent volatility, the Dow and S&P 500 are firmly higher for the month, gaining 7.2% and 4.2%, respectively.

“The significant tailwinds propelling equities higher and the forces that have driven equities into, during, and now out of the pandemic remain,” analysts at Evercore ISI wrote in a note to clients.

“Investors seem to understand that faster growth, rising earnings growth expectations, still historically low corporate borrowing costs, and pent up consumer demand will fuel further market gains,” the firm added.

Evercore envisions the pace of gains slowing, however, with equities already pricing in a reacceleration of growth.

Small cap stocks have been a beneficiary of the reopening trade in recent months as investors rotated into some of the hardest hit areas of the market. The Russell 2000 has gained 43% over the last six months, more than doubling the return of the Dow and S&P.

Traders are bracing for heightened volatility during this holiday-shortened week with quarter-end rebalancing among pension funds and other big investors. The recent swift advance in bond yields could set up money managers for big adjustments in their portfolios.

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