Global shares ease, but rising bond yields remain in focus ahead of Biden’s infrastructure speech

New york stock exchange

Global stocks eased on Wednesday as markets stabilized following a volatile session the previous day, after the Archegos hedge fund default rattled equity investors and helped push government bond yields to pre-pandemic highs.

Futures on the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 were up by 0.1%, while futures on the S&P 500 and Dow Jones were mostly flat, suggesting a steady start to trade later in the day.

Investors were also awaiting President Joe Biden’s speech later in the day on his infrastructure spending.

Rising Treasury yields however continue to put pressure on stocks globally. The benchmark 10-year US Treasury yield has risen this week to around 1.75%, its highest since early last year, before the onset of the pandemic.

As COVID-19 vaccinations roll out and the economy gradually strengthens, investors have sold off their bond holdings in anticipation of a pickup in growth and inflation. This has fed some concern about high valuation sectors, including tech. The Nasdaq 100 hit a three-month low earlier this month, but has since been recovering steadily.

“Eminently some of the move could be in anticipation of Biden’s infrastructure spending plans outline today, though these should by rights have been offset by quarter end rebalancing after a dire quarter for US Treasuries,” Marc Ostwald, chief economist and global strategist at ADM Investor Services International said.

“On the other hand, Gresham’s law (bad money chasing out good) may be at work, with UST holdings being liquidated to cover Archegos related losses.” Ostwald said.

Economists at ING said at least the part of the US Treasury sell-off, where yields rise as prices fall, has been driven by anticipation of Biden’s infrastructure plan.

“Then again, rising US rates are being driven at least as much by the steady drumbeat of improving economic data as the economy reopens,” they said.

Stocks broadly traded down in Asia overnight, with the Shanghai composite closing at -0.4%, the Nikkei falling 0.8% and the Hang Seng index down 0.7%.

In Europe, the DAX closed at a record high on Tuesday and continued its uptrend on Wednesday. This proved to be the exception to the rule in the region, as the FTSE 100 was down 0.4% and the Euro Stoxx 50 was down 0.1%.

In the UK, investors digested the largest IPO in a decade by food delivery company Deliveroo, whose shares fell as much as 30% at its debut. The company is not currently listed on any major indices, so this did not impact benchmark indices.

Oil futures inched upwards following the Suez Canal reopening and ahead of the OPEC+ meeting on Thursday, although this is not expected to majorly impact prices as production cuts are unlikely to occur.

“Not wishing to be caught out like last month, oil markets will not go into the meeting short, and I expect any dips today to be met with firm demand. An unchanged OPEC+ is now the mainstream view and also mine,” Jeffrey Halley, Asia Pacific senior market analyst at OANDA said.

Brent crude futures were trading 0.5% lower on Wednesday morning, whilst WTI futures were down 0.4%.

“There is a chance that this could be a ‘buy the rumour and sell the fact’ situation, with oil falling after the OPEC+ decision. Still, I do not expect the lows of last week on either contract to be revisited, with the Biden package to come and US jobs data expected to confirm its accelerating recovery,” Halley said.

Key US employment data is due on Thursday and could give some insight into the resilience of the economic recovery.