Walmart worries, bond yields threaten six-day winning streak

February 20th, 20182:16 pm @


(Reuters) – Wall Street was on track to snap a six-day winning streak on Tuesday following a rise in bond yields and underwhelming results from Walmart.

Shares of the world’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer (WMT.N) fell 7.14 percent in premarket trading after the company reported a lower-than-expected profit and posted a sharp drop in online sales growth during the holiday period.

Other big decliner was Qualcomm (QCOM.O), which fell 2.7 percent after the chipmaker raised its offer to buy NXP Semiconductors NV (NXPI.O) to $127.50 per share from $110. NXP shares rose 6.2 percent.

“The markets were indicating a lower open last night and an increase to the downside came after Walmart reported an earnings miss. We’re also seeing yields move up above the 2.80/2.91, and that has markets a little bit concerned,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth in New York.

By 8:34 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMc1 had lost 157 points, SP 500 e-minis ESc1 fell 15.25 points and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 slipped 38.5 points.

U.S. stock markets were closed on Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.

The SP 500 racked up its biggest weekly increase in five years last week, easing fears that a deeper market correction was taking hold after a handful of large daily losses at the start of February.

The spark for those falls was a rise in U.S. bond yields, however, and benchmark 10-year Treasury bond yields US1OYT=RR hit four-year highs of 2.9060 percent in early trade on Tuesday.

“The market views rising interest rates as potentially getting a little bit ahead of themselves. The bond market is oversold, the yield environment is overbought, but that has not stopped the slowdown in equities,” said Pavlik.

Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s January meeting on Wednesday will be at the center of this week’s trade, eyed for more clues on the central bank’s view on inflation and the pace of future interest rate increases.

Traders are pricing in an 83 percent chance that the Fed will raise its main rates again in March, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

Wall Street’s fear gauge, the CBOE volatility index .VIX, also edged up to 21.26, slightly above Friday’s close of 19.46, but way off the 50 points it hit during the peak of the sell-off.

Rite Aid (RAD.N) was the most traded stock premarket, jumping 15 percent after grocery chain operator Albertsons Companies (ABS.N) said it would buy the part of the drug retailer that is not being bought by Walgreens Boots (WBA.O).

Snapchat operator Snap (SNAP.N) slid 5.4 percent after Citigroup downgraded the stock to “sell”, arguing negative reviews on an app redesign might lead to a decline in users.

Home Depot (HD.N) rose nearly 2 percent after the largest U.S. home improvement chain’s quarterly profit beat market estimates for the sixth straight quarter.

Of the 399 companies in the SP 500 that reported fourth quarter earnings through Friday, 76.4 percent have topped profit expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. That is above the average 72 percent beat-rate over the past four quarters.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham and Anil D’Silva

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