Feb 23, 2021 - Economy

Commodities hit 8-year high as market divergence continues

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Tech stocks suffered some big losses on Monday, as the specter of higher U.S. borrowing costs continued to weigh on their share prices, while bullish vaccine expectations helped make the Dow the only major U.S. index to end in the green.

What happened: The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield rose to 1.37%, a fresh one-year high, showing investors remain bullish on the economy and a recovery in inflation.

  • Yields on the 10-year have risen by around 26 basis points since the start of the month and are on track for their largest monthly gain in three years.
  • That's good news for the broader economy, as it shows investors foresee higher growth and rising inflation, but bad news for stocks that have flourished in the negative real-rate environment that has been in place since early in 2020.
  • That's when the Fed unveiled its QE4ever program and announced it would buy an unlimited supply of U.S. government bonds as well as some corporate bonds — buoying tech stocks, especially, to record high prices and extreme valuations.

The big picture: Along with the jump in bond yields, oil jumped by nearly 4%, gold and silver rose and commodities rose to their highest in almost eight years, as investors continued to buy assets that will benefit from reduced COVID-19 cases and a growing economy.

Between the lines: Despite a 2% decline in Boeing stock after the grounding of 69 of its 777-model jets following the engine failure on a United Airlines flight from Denver on Saturday, U.S. airlines soared with the JETS ETF up 3.5%.

Heads up: In another sign of the mood shift in the stock market, Tesla's stock declined again, dropping 8.6% on Monday. The stock is down 14.9% so far in February and has gained just 1.3% year to date.

  • Tesla shares rose 743% in 2020.

What's next: Investors will be anxiously awaiting statements from Fed chair Jerome Powell today and tomorrow as he testifies before Congress about monetary policy.

  • Powell and other members of the Fed's rate-setting committee have consistently talked up their desire to see consistently higher U.S. inflation.
  • Now that inflation expectations are moving the price of food, gas, mortgages and other staples of the economy higher, investors are anxious to see if the chairman sticks to his guns.

Don't sleep: Despite protestations from Powell that the Fed "isn't even thinking about thinking about thinking about" raising rates, speculators are beginning to price in a Fed rate hike this year.

  • CME Group's FedWatch tool shows Fed fund futures pricing in an 11% chance of a hike by December.
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