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Markets

Nasdaq set for sharp drop at open as US stimulus fuels inflation jitters

  • Disney gains as California allows theme parks to reopen.
  • Banks stocks advance as yields rise on stimulus bill.
  • GameStop jumps after tapping Ryan Cohen to lead transition.
  • Futures: Dow up 0.1%, S&P down 0.3%, Nasdaq drops 0.9%.
Published March 8, 2021

The Nasdaq was set to slump at the open on Monday as the passage of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package by the US Senate lifted bond yields, pressuring richly valued technology stocks and sparking inflation concerns.

The Senate on Saturday passed the stimulus package - one of the biggest in US history - and President Joe Biden said he hoped for quick passage of the revised bill by the House of Representatives so he could sign it and send $1,400 direct payments to Americans.

Technology-related stocks, including Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc, fell between 1% and 1.5% after bearing the brunt of the sell-off in the past three weeks on fears of higher interest rates as the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield scaled one-year highs.

"There are tensions about inflation pressures and the stimulus package certainly adds to that pressure which is shown in the weakness in tech stocks and the Nasdaq," said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth in New York.

"But the wider S&P 500 and Dow indices indicate towards a positive open as investors bet that the huge coronavirus aid bill will help boost economic recovery."

Tech stocks are particularly sensitive to rising yields because their value rests heavily on earnings in the future, which are discounted more deeply when bond returns go up.

Aggravating concerns about rising prices, crude oil prices climbed above $70 a barrel on Monday.

Hopes of more fiscal support and signs of faster economic growth on speedy vaccine rollouts had lifted Wall Street's main indexes to record highs last month, but worries that rising inflation could result in a sudden tapering of monetary stimulus have now prompted investors to dump equities.

Since the yield surge began in mid-February, the Russell 1000 growth index has fallen 7.7% against a 1.8% gain for its counterpart value index consisting of cyclical stocks such as financials and energy.

At 08:21 a.m. ET, Dow E-minis were up 35 points, or 0.11%, S&P 500 E-minis were down 10.5 points, or 0.27% and Nasdaq 100 E-minis were down 114.25 points, or 0.9%.

Banks were among the rare gainers premarket as the yield on the benchmark 10-year note stood near a 13-month high, while Wall Street's fear gauge jumped nearly 3 points and was on course for its biggest one-day rise this month.

Walt Disney rose about 1.5% as California health officials set new rules that would allow Disneyland and other theme parks, stadiums and outdoor entertainment venues to reopen as early as April 1.

GameStop Corp jumped about 11% after the company said it had tapped shareholder Ryan Cohen to lead a transition to an e-commerce business.

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