Market Overview

Stocks Slump as Virus Jitters Fuel Rush Into Bonds

Stocks Slump as Virus Jitters Fuel Rush Into Bonds

Stocks slumped around the world as investors rushed into haven assets after the delta coronavirus variant cast a pall over the economic recovery, while tension between the U.S. and China escalated. In a reversal of the reopening trade that has powered this year’s equity rally, cyclical companies bore the brunt of Monday’s rout. Commodity, financial and industrial shares led losses in the S&P 500, which fell the most since May. Airlines and cruise operators tumbled amid concern over further travel restrictions. After recently plunging to pre-pandemic levels, the Cboe Volatility Index, or VIX, soared. European stocks had their biggest drop of 2021, following a selloff in Asia.

With the risk-off sentiment spreading across global markets, Treasury 10-year yields spiraled to their lowest since February, while the dollar rose alongside the yen and the Swiss franc. Despite the classic safety trade, gold retreated. Oil sank after OPEC+ agreed to boost supply into 2022. Meantime, Bitcoin’s slide pushed the world’s largest digital currency closer to $30,000.

The resurgence of Covid-19 is unsettling global investors, who are considering whether new lockdown restrictions will sap the economic rebound and reverse an equity rally that had driven stocks to a record. For Matt Miskin, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock Investment Management, the move to “higher-quality assets” such as Treasuries is justified. In a Bloomberg Television interview, he said that “we’re in a decelerating growth environment.”

“Risk aversion is firmly in place as the Delta Covid variant spread is triggering a flight to safety,” wrote Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda. “Equities were ripe for a pullback given Wall Street was in agreement that this is ‘as good as it gets’ for peak earnings, economic growth, monetary stimulus. It is hard to hold risky assets over the short-term now.”

Geopolitical jitters also resurfaced on Monday after the U.S., the U.K. and their allies said the Chinese government has been the mastermind behind a series of malicious ransomware, data theft and cyber-espionage attacks against public and private entities — including the sprawling Microsoft Exchange hack earlier this year.

Stocks

The S&P 500 fell 1.9% as of 1:02 p.m. New York timeThe Nasdaq 100 fell 1.3%The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.4%The MSCI World index fell 1.9%

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.3%The euro was little changed at $1.1797The British pound fell 0.7% to $1.3666The Japanese yen rose 0.6% to 109.41 per dollar

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined 11 basis points to 1.18%Germany’s 10-year yield declined three basis points to -0.39%Britain’s 10-year yield declined seven basis points to 0.56%

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude fell 7.4% to $66.50 a barrelGold futures fell 0.3% to $1,809.30 an ounce

Stocks Slump as Virus Jitters Fuel Rush Into Bonds: Markets Wrap, Bloomberg, Jul 20

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