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As rising Treasury yields spook stock investors, March looms like a


After a frenetic February, investors are probably hoping that March holds true to its proverb: In like a lion out like a lamb.

Indeed, February turned out to be a doozy, with benchmark bond yields, represented by the 10-year Treasury note
TMUBMUSD10Y,
1.415%

and the 30-year long bond
TMUBMUSD10Y,
1.415%
,
ringing up their biggest monthly surges since 2016, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

The move was a stark reminder to investors that bonds, considered mundane and straight-laced by some investors, can wreak havoc on the market all the same.

A final flurry of trading, some $2.5 billion in sales near Friday’s close, created a major downside drag for stocks in the final few minutes of the session and may imply that there may be more air pockets ahead before the market steadies next week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-1.50%

and S&P 500 index
SPX,
-0.48%

barely held above their 50-day moving averages, at 30,863.07 and 3,808.40, respectively, at Friday’s close.

‘An associated 10-20% sell-off in US equities would also focus minds. But before then, the pain currently being handed out to growth-tilted equity portfolios could get worse.’ Citigroup strategists

“The turmoil is probably not over,” wrote Independent market analyst Stephen Todd, who runs Todd Market Forecast, in a daily note.

Yet, for all the bellyaching about yields running hotter than expected, stocks in February still managed to bang out solid returns. For the month, the Dow finished up 3.2%, the S&P 500 notched a 2.6% gain in February, while the Nasdaq eked out a 0.9% return, despite a 4.9% weekly loss put in on Friday that marked the worst weekly skid since Oct.30.

Many have made the case that a selloff in the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite was inevitable, especially with buzzy stocks like Tesla Inc.
TSLA,
-0.99%

only getting frothier by some measures.

“But the market has been overbought and extended all year and arguably for several months in late-2020,” wrote Jeff Hirsch, editor of the Stock Trader’s Almanac, in a note dated Thursday.

“After the big run-up in the first half of February folks have been looking for an excuse to take profits,” he wrote, describing February as the weak link in what’s usually the best six-month period of gains for the stock market.

The beneficiaries of the recent move in yields so far appear to be banks, which are benefitting from a steeper yield curve as long dated Treasury yields rise, and the S&P 500 financials sector
SP500.40,
-1.97%

XLF,
-1.91%

finished down 0.4%, which is, as it turns out, was the second-best weekly performance of the index’s 11 sectors behind energy
SP500.10,
-2.30%
,
which surged 4.3%.

Utilities
SP500.55,
-1.86%

were the worst performer, down 5.1% on the week and…



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