A general view of the facade of the New York Stock Exchange on January 13, 2015 in New York City.
Ben Hider | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
This report is from today’s CNBC Daily Open, our new, international markets newsletter. CNBC Daily Open brings investors up to speed on everything they need to know, no matter where they are. Like what you see? You can subscribe here.
It was a bad February for markets. Stocks fell — and bonds fell too.
- Goldman Sachs will pivot from its consumer push to focus on asset and wealth management, CEO David Solomon said. He added that the bank was weighing “strategic alternatives” for its consumer platforms — suggesting a possible sale or restructuring. Goldman shares dropped 3.8%.
- Sapeon, a South Korea artificial intelligence chip startup based in California, has entered a funding round that values it above $400 million. The startup is backed by South Korean firms and aims to challenge Nvidia, the current market leader.
- PRO The 10-year Treasury yield is hovering close to 4%, a level that strategists say could give investors a fright. “When [yields] rally, the equity market doesn’t like that,” said Katie Stockton, founder of Fairlead Strategies.
In this turbulent market, investors seem unable to find safety in any asset.
Markets in the U.S. closed lower on the last day of February. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.7%, the S&P 500 fell 0.3% and the Nasdaq Composite dipped 0.1%. The Dow shed 4.19% for the month and has lost 1.48% for the year, which means it gave up all the gains it made in January. The S&P and Nasdaq fared slightly better. Though they lost 2.61% and 1.11% respectively in February, the two indexes are still holding onto some gains from their January rally.
More worryingly for investors, the inverse relationship between stocks and bonds — which proved fallible last year — has not yet reestablished itself. Bonds are typically seen as a hedge against stock movements; that is, when stocks drop, bonds tend to go up, which is why we hear so much about the merits of a diversified portfolio comprising 60% stocks and 40% bonds. Well — perhaps not so much these two years. Inflation has wreaked havoc on this relationship, causing the assets to move in tandem.
Yesterday, the 10-year Treasury yield briefly hit 3.983%, its highest level in three months. That’s dangerously close to 4%, which analysts say is a key psychological level for investors (if only for the fact that it’s a whole number that seems to present a new threshold). Bond prices are falling — as are stocks. Until inflation is under control, markets feel like a no-win scenario for investors. (Even gold, an asset that investors run to for shelter, fell 5.58% in February.)
There may be some hope: U.S. home prices in December were 5.8% higher year over year, an increase, admittedly, but down from the 7.6% gain in November. High mortgage rates, rising in tandem with interest rates, slowed the increase in prices. Big-box retailer Target warned in its earnings report that consumers are paring back on their discretionary spending. Inflation may be slowing — it’s just not as quickly as we had hoped.
Subscribe here to get this report sent directly to your inbox each morning before markets open.