Stocks trade lower, Dow falls more than 100 points

U.S. stocks traded lower after wavering Monday morning.

The Dow (^DJI) fell 0.6%, or 157.9 points at 12:10 p.m. ET, after falling as much as 223.96 points earlier in the morning. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) slipped 0.64%, or 18.46 points. The Nasdaq (^IXIC) fell 1.38%, or 108.77 points, as tech stocks largely declined.

Some experts are still concerned after last week’s pullback in equity markets, which had been spurred in large part by rising interest rates.

“Last week’s message across markets was loud and clear — yields are rising but growth will likely slow next year, which means portfolios need to shift,” Michael Wilson, Morgan Stanley’s chief U.S. equity strategist, wrote in a note. “Still solid economic data and a Fed that continues to tighten is continuing to push both nominal and real yields in the U.S. higher, bringing end of cycle risks into focus, capping equity market valuations, and leading to intra-market rotations on a sector and style basis”

On Friday, the Labor Department announced that U.S. companies added 134,000 non-farm payrolls in September, which was less than the 185,000 estimated by economists. However, the unemployment rate dropped to a near five-decade low of 3.7%.

The extra evidence of a tightening labor market — coupled with statements from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that the central bank is “a long way” from getting interest rates to neutral —renewed concern over the risk of rising inflation, sending Treasury yields higher and spooking stocks.

“While 2017 saw rising rates and accelerating growth, we think the equity market is now wrestling with rising real rates and economic growth that will decelerate into next year,” Wilson added. “We think this creates a tipping point that explains many of the performance themes this week and lays the groundwork for something of a regime change…”

Yields for the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note are holding above 3.2%, or the highest level in seven years. The U.S. bond market is closed Monday for a holiday.

NEWS: Chinese markets fall after central bank action

China’s markets slid after returning from a weeklong holiday. The Shanghai Composite dipped 3.7% Monday, despite China’s central bank deciding over the weekend to ease reserve ratio requirements for some banks to spur economic growth amid a continued trade war with the U.S. The required reserve ratio for some lenders has been lowered by 1 percentage point as of Oct. 15, the People’s Bank of China announced Sunday.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Google (GOOG) exposed data from hundreds of thousands of Google+ users and then chose not to disclose the issue on concern of regulatory scrutiny and reputation damage, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. According to the report, a software glitch gave outside developers potential access to private Google+ profile data between 2015 and March 2018. Google found no evidence of data misuse, according to the Wall Street Journal report. Google announced Monday that it is shutting down Google+ for consumers.

Goldman Sachs (GS) is said to be cutting its loan origination target for next year in its consumer segment Marcus, according to reports from Bloomberg citing unnamed people with knowledge of the plans. The online personal loan platform has lent more than $4 billion since launching in 2016, sparking concern over how Marcus would fare in times when consumers had more trouble repaying debt. The planned cuts for 2019 are based on current market conditions and are subject to change, according to a person familiar cited in Bloomberg’s report.

The Department of Homeland Security said it has “no reason to doubt firms” including Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN) that denied claims made in a Bloomberg Businessweek article last week of malicious computer chip attacks from Chinese hackers.  Bloomberg’s report had cited 17 unnamed intelligence and company insiders as saying that Chinese spies had put computer chips inside hardware used by about 30 companies and government agencies. Apple, Amazon and Super Micro Computer — a hardware producer whose goods Bloomberg said had been implanted with malicious Chinese chips — each refuted the claims.

STOCKS: General Electric gains on “blue sky” outlook

Shares of General Electric (GE) jumped following a bullish analyst outlook from Barclays. Analyst Julian Mitchell, whose 12-month price target is $16 for GE, upgraded the stock to overweight from equal weight and said a “blue sky scenario implies upside” to at least $20 per share. General Electric’s new CEO Larry Culp was announced earlier this month, replacing John Flannery after he had served just 14 months as top executive of the ailing company. Shares of General Electric rose 1.33% to $13.36 per share around market open Monday.

Ford (FORD) is preparing to cut an unspecified number of its current 70,000 salaried jobs as part of the company’s $11 billion restructuring plan. The company expects to have more details by the second quarter of 2019. The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker fell behind Fiat Chrysler, General Motors and Toyota in U.S. sales last month, and shares of the stock are down more than 24% in 2018 as of market close Friday. The stock fell 1.3% to $1.51 at 9:35 a.m. ET Monday.

Walmart (WMT) will partner with movie studio MGM to create content for Vudu in a move that will bolster the video-on-demand service facing competition from Netflix, Hulu and other streaming platforms. Walmart purchased Vudu eight years ago in the wake of declining in-store DVD sales. Shares of Walmart are up 0.44% to $93.69 around market open Monday.

ECONOMY: U.S. Treasury to sell off $230 billion of debt this week

The Treasury will sell $230 billion of debt this week, which will consist of $104 billion in new debt and $126 billion in previously sold debt.

While last week’s selloff sent bond yields soaring and diverted interest away from many equity markets, some analysts don’t think a continued Treasury note sell-off should be considered worrisome.

“The price action in three important markets (currency, corporate bonds and TIPS) challenge the notion that U.S. Treasuries are ringing the proverbial bell-at-the-top for stocks,” DataTrek Research co-founders Nicholas Colas and Jessica Rabe wrote in a note.

They cited the relative dollar — which has not rallied along with elevated Treasury yields at a high enough rate to cut into 2019 earnings estimates for major multinational U.S. companies — as one such signal that “calls into question how sustainable the current bond selloff might be.” 

“We don’t doubt that a further Treasury selloff in the next week will continue to pressure stocks,” they added. “There is just not enough evidence yet to trigger our ‘intellectual stop loss.’”

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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