Financial, tech stocks lead Wall Street lower as yields rise

(Reuters) – Financial and technology stocks led Wall Street lower on Wednesday as concerns about rising U.S. bond yields eclipsed gains from Boeing and Comcast following strong results.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 18, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Shares of the world’s biggest planemaker rose 2.5 percent after its profit jumped by more than half in the first quarter and the company raised its full-year forecasts for cash flow and earnings.

After Caterpillar spooked investors by warning about higher material costs on Tuesday, Boeing executives, on a post-earnings call noted that it was not seeing a material effect from raw material costs.

“With earnings reports that are coming out, the focus is on the forward guidance for where the interest rate environment is going,” said William Norris, chief investment officer at CIBC Bank USA.

“Investors are seeing a lot more cross-currents impacting the markets … we knew that earnings were going to be very good and people are looking beyond the first quarter.”

The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes, the benchmark for global interest rates, held above 3 percent after crossing the level for the first time in four years on Tuesday, stoking concerns about higher borrowing rates for companies.

Comcast rose 3.7 percent after the U.S. cable company topped Wall Street’s profit estimates and offered $30.7 billion in a bid for Sky.

Twitter, initially up 10 percent after a strong set of quarterly results, flipped to a 5 percent fall on the day.

Facebook which is set to report after market on Wednesday, was down 0.14 percent. Investors will watch for any update on the social network’s plan on data protection after it became embroiled in a huge scandal surrounding the misuse of its users’ data by a consultancy.

“There’s pending regulation, we don’t know how exactly it’s going to play out and there’s a lot of uncertainty,” said Kim Forrest, senior portfolio manager at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

Reuters data shows that analysts are now estimating 22 percent profit growth in the first quarter among the S&P 500 companies, compared with 18.6 percent at the start of the earnings season.

At 13:08 ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 27.18 points, or 0.11 percent, at 23,996.95, the S&P 500 was down 0.91 points, or 0.03 percent, at 2,633.65 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.34 points at 7,007.01.

Financial stocks were the biggest laggards, falling 0.4 percent on the S&P 500, after a 5 percent drop in shares of Capital One as the credit card issuer reported a drop in net interest margin.

General Electric fell more than 4 percent after Moody’s changed its ratings outlook on the company.

The CBOE Volatility index, a gauge of short-term stock market volatility, jumped to a more than 1-week high of 18.72 points.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE for a 1.79-to-1 ratio and for a 1.60-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Patrick Graham and Shounak Dasgupta