US bond yields spook stock markets

The Frankfurt stock exchange was spooked the most, though European markets as a whole were in the red

London (AFP) – European stock markets slid Wednesday and Wall Street wobbled as investors reckoned with rising US Treasury yields.

The yield on 10-year US government bonds hit 3.0 percent for the first time in more than four years on Tuesday and pushed higher on Wednesday.

Many investors consider a 3.0 percent or better rate of return on bonds the level at which they should put their money in the safe holdings rather than riskier stocks. Thus the rising bond yields could presage a decision by many investors to adjust their holdings out of stocks.

Although US companies continued to mostly beat earnings expectations, the market has not cheered. 

“Company earnings continue to beat top and bottom line estimates, but investors are not impressed,” said market analyst Jasper Lawler at London Capital Group. 

“Top that off with three percent treasury yields competing for their money and stocks look unattractive.” 

New York wobbled in and out of positive territory.

The Dow was down 0.07 percent approaching midday, while the broader S&P 500 index was flat, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was up 0.2 percent.

In Europe, Frankfurt took the worst hit, dropping by 1.0 percent.

Both London and Paris gave up 0.6 percent.

 – Sky offer – 

The inability of London’s benchmark FTSE 100 to close higher was all the more noteworthy given two major takeover developments.

US media giant Comcast on Wednesday confirmed its £22-billion ($31-billion, 25-billion-euro) firm offer for Sky.

The news, which threatened to derail media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to take full control of Sky, sent shares in the British pay-TV giant soaring 3.9 percent to top the gainers board on the FTSE 100.

In response to the Comcast news, Sky announced it had withdrawn its support for 21st Century Fox’s £11.4-billion bid for the 61 percent of the UK broadcaster that it does not already own.

Meanwhile shares in the London-listed maker of Botox, Shire, fell 2.8 percent after its management recommended an improved £46-billion offer from Japan’s Takeda. Shares in Takeda tumbled 7 percent in Tokyo.

Asian markets earlier reversed tack after earlier losses on Wall Street.

Oil prices fell after data showed US crude production hit a record high and stocks confounded expectations to rise.

 – Key figures around 1630 GMT – 

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.07 percent at 24.007.17 points 

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.8 percent at 7,379.32 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 1.0 percent at 12,422.30 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.6 percent at 5,413.60 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.8 percent at 3,483.74 

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 percent at 22,215.32 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.0 percent at 30,328.15 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,117.97 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2187 from $1.2233 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.34 yen from 108.82

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3945 from $1.3978

Oil – Brent North Sea: DOWN 48 cents at $73.38 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 19 cents at $67.51