By Pete Schroeder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Longer-dated U.S. Treasury yields hit a 10-month high Thursday as Wall Street accelerated losses into the close and investors grappled with the potential for longer-lasting high interest rates and a struggling Chinese economy.
Benchmark 10-year yields reached 4.312% in trading and tested October’s 4.338%, before moving lower to 4.29%. The 30-year yield hit 12-year highs. [US/]
A steady stream of stronger-than-expected economic data, coupled with Wednesday meeting minutes suggesting Federal Reserve officials are still focusing on containing inflation, boosted yields while putting a damper on stocks and other markets.
Minutes from the Fed’s July rate-setting meeting released Wednesday showed policymakers were divided over the need for more rate increases, with some citing the risk to the economy of pushing hikes too far but most noting inflation remains a primary focus.
“We read in the Fed’s minutes that officials are nervous about the unknown cumulative impact of monetary policy tightening to date. Tighter credit conditions will eventually dampen economic activity and markets are choppy from the uncertainty,” said Jeffrey Roach, chief economist for LPL Financial.
Wall Street was mixed in the first half of the trading day before accelerating losses as the session ended. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 0.84% and the S&P 500 lost 0.78%. The Nasdaq Composite fell 1.17%.
MSCI’s world index was down 0.32%, having earlier dropped to its lowest level since July 6.
On Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department reported the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell in the last week, suggesting the still-tight labor market could prolong the Fed’s project to cool the economy.
“In short, the labor market is still strong but much more balanced than during the severe worker shortages of the early recovery from the pandemic,” said Bill Adams, chief economist for Comerica Bank.
That report followed several earlier in the week that exceeded economist expectations, including U.S. retail sales, which all suggested the Fed may have to stick with higher rates for longer.
In currency markets, the dollar index, which tracks the greenback versus a basket of six currencies, was relatively flat, climbing 0.02% to 103.458.[FRX/]
In contrast to signs of persistent U.S. economic strength, China also loomed large with investors as data and turmoil in the property sector painted a gloomy picture of the nation’s post-pandemic recovery.
The latest development was embattled asset manager Zhongzhi Enterprise Group saying it will conduct a debt restructuring, a further sign of turmoil in China’s $3 trillion shadow banking sector.
However, recent moves by China’s central bank to keep liquidity reasonably ample and maintain “precise and forceful” policy to support the economy did help boost some markets, including oil, which had seen sizeable declines in the last several days on concerns of reduced Chinese demand.
Brent crude was up over 1% earlier in the day before settling up 0.35% at $83.74 a barrel. U.S. crude ended the day up 0.79% at $80 per barrel. [O/R]
(Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Singapore and Alun John in London, additional reporting by Anisha Sircar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonali Paul, Angus MacSwan, Chizu Nomiyama, Nick Macfie and Cynthia Osterman)