Dow finishes down for fifth straight session as investors weigh regional-bank fallout
By Vivien Lou Chen and William Watts
Regional bank stocks came under heavy pressure
U.S. stocks finished mostly lower on Monday, leaving Dow industrials with the fifth straight day of losses, as investors fretted over contagion risks even after regulators moved to inoculate the banking system from further runs on vulnerable financial institutions.
How stocks traded
Last week, a selloff in bank stocks pulled down the broader market, leaving the S&P 500 with a 4.6% weekly decline and nearly wiping out the large-cap benchmark's early 2023 gains. The Dow saw a 4.4% weekly fall, while the Nasdaq Composite declined 4.7%.
What drove markets
Investors reassessed the outlook for interest rates after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in California and New York's Signature Bank, which left regional bank shares under heavy pressure.
Treasury yields fell sharply as investors scaled back expectations for future Federal Reserve rate increases, with the bank rout seen as potentially crimping lending activity that could slow down the economy.
"One way to look at this is that a big chunk of the Fed's job has now been done for it," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network, in a phone interview.
The Fed's goal had been to "hike rates until borrowers stop borrowing. Now one major source of borrowing in the tech sector has blown up" while regional banks will be forced to reduce their loan book, he said.
Meanwhile, the moves taken by regulators may, in the end, be enough to stem some of the turmoil in global markets emanating from smaller U.S. banks, said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JP Morgan Funds, in a note.
However, "these problems were largely set up by over-easy Fed policy for many years and are now being triggered by excessive tightening," Kelly said.
SVB's failure was blamed on a mismatch between assets and liabilities. The bank catered to tech startups and venture-capital firms. Deposits grew rapidly and were placed in long-dated bonds, particularly government-backed mortgage securities. As the Federal Reserve began aggressively raising interest rates roughly a year ago, funding sources for tech startups dried up, putting pressure on deposits. At the same time, Fed rate hikes triggered a historic bond-market selloff, putting a big dent in the value of SVB's bondholdings, which it was forced to sell at a huge loss.
Read: Silicon Valley Bank is a reminder that 'things tend to break' when Fed hikes rates
Concerns about asset-liability matchups remain, analysts said, as regional banking stocks continued to sink. Shares of
See: Regional banks are seeing flight of deposits to too-big-to-fail megabanks
Also:Why bank ETFs are tanking despite regulators taking emergency steps to backstop depositors
Short-duration government bond yields tumbled as investors made bets that financial instability will encourage the Federal Reserve to slow or pause rate hikes. A flight to quality was also contributing to the pullback in Treasury yields, which move opposite to price.
The 2-year Treasury yield , which last week was trading at 15-year highs above 5%, fell 55.8 basis points to 4.03% on Monday. That was the biggest one-day decline since Oct. 20, 1987.
Need to Know:SVB's rescue means the Fed won't hike rates in March, says Goldman Sachs
There is "a problem of varying degrees across most (if not all) banks in the U.S.," which represents a real threat to the system should a large-scale run develop, according to Brian Mulberry, a client portfolio manager at Zacks Investment Management, which manages $15 billion in assets.
Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank "failed, in part, because of a lack of interest-rate-risk management," Mulberry wrote in an email. "These banks bought long dated bonds over the past several years and didn't manage their duration or interest-rate risk. So, as rates rose over the past year and longer dated bonds dropped in value, it eroded their capital base and bonds they valued at par (100) were worth nothing close to it."
Companies in focus
-- Jamie Chisholm contributed to this article.
-Vivien Lou Chen
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March 13, 2023 16:29 ET (20:29 GMT)
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