Wall Street fell sharply on Tuesday as warnings by bellwether companies of higher costs reverberated in combination with the 10-year Treasury yield hitting the 3 percent level for the first time in four years.
Caterpillar fell 6.20 percent after management said first-quarter earnings would be the “high water mark” for the year and warned of increasing steel prices, although the company exceeded earnings estimates due to strong global demand.
The S&P 500 and the Dow have chalked up their worst decline in two-and-a-half weeks, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down for a fifth day in a row. The S&P 500 is down 1.5 percent year-to-date.
Other companies, including Lockheed and 3M, also gave disappointing updates, adding to the sting of rising Treasury yields. The 10-year yield, a benchmark for global borrowing costs, has been driven steadily higher by a combination of concerns over inflation, growing debt supply and rising Federal Reserve borrowing costs.
Higher bond yields could also prompt portfolio managers to weigh moving money into more attractive fixed-income securities at the expense of equities.
3M was the worst drag on the Dow with its shares chalking up a decline of 6.83 percent. The company posted in-line earnings as lower taxes offset a miss in operating profits. In addition the company lowered its 2018 earnings forecast.
Technology stocks also weighed on the major indexes. Facebook fell 3.7 percent.
Alphabet was down 4.77 percent, erasing the stock’s year-to-date gains as rising expenses and shrinking margins overshadowed the company’s better-than-expected quarterly profit.
Apple lost 1.39 percent over possible softening demand for high-end smartphones as Corning reported a decline of screen glass sales for the first time in at least four quarters. Amazon and Netflix also weighed on the Nasdaq.
Shares of Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon’s largest weapons supplier, ended the trading day down 6.17 percent. The company reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings and raised its full-year sales and profit forecast but did not raise its 2018 cash-flow projections.
So far, 24 percent of S&P 500 companies have reported first-quarter results, with 77.1 percent coming in above the Street consensus, versus the 64 percent average since 1994. Analysts estimate 21.1 percent growth in earnings for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data.
On the economic front, consumer confidence rebounded in April, according to the Conference Board, as short-term optimism improved and the share of consumers expecting their incomes to decline in the coming months hit its lowest level since December 2000.
Oil rose above $75 a barrel to its highest level since November 2014, but then reversed course as U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to try to resolve U.S.-European differences on Iran, easing concerns that the United States might reinstate sanctions against Iran.
Approximately 7.22 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 6.80 billion share average over the past 20 trading days.
Day’s Economic News
Consumer confidence rebounded in April and new home sales increased more than expected in March, reaffirming that there is continuing underlying economic strength despite signs that growth slowed in the first quarter.
Other data on Tuesday indicated house prices increasing solidly during February. Strong consumer confidence and rising house prices bode point towards acceleration in consumer spending during the second quarter after it slowed sharply at the start of the year.
The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index increased to a reading of 128.7 this month from 127.0 in March. Consumers’ short-term expectations also improved, with the share of consumers expecting their incomes to decline over the coming months reaching its lowest level since December 2000.
In a separate report, the Commerce Department said new home sales increased 4.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 694,000 units last month. February’s sales pace was revised up to 667,000 units from the previously reported 618,000 units. Data for January was also revised to show sales unchanged instead of declining 4.7 percent.
New home sales are drawn from permits and tend to be volatile on a month-to-month basis. They rose 8.8 percent from a year ago.
March’s rise in new home sales and upward revisions to January and February sales data are unlikely to change economists’ expectations that residential investment declined in the first quarter.
Gross domestic product estimates for the first quarter are below a 2 percent annualized rate. The economy grew at a 2.9 percent rate in the fourth quarter.
The housing market is struggling with a chronic shortage of properties that is boosting home prices and weighing on sales at the lower end of the market.
Rising mortgage rates and moderate wage growth are making home purchasing less affordable, especially for first-time buyers although they account for less than a third of transactions.
Sales in the West soared 28.3 percent to their highest level since December 2006. They rose 0.8 percent in the South, which accounts for most new home sales. Sales fell 54.8 percent in the Northeast and were down 2.4 percent in the Midwest.
The median new house price increased 4.8 percent to $337,200 in March from a year ago. Last month, there were 301,000 new homes on the market, unchanged from February.
At March’s sales pace it would take 5.2 months to clear the supply of houses on the market, down from 5.4 months in February. Approximately two-thirds of the houses sold last month were either under construction or yet to be built.
Another report on Tuesday showed the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller composite index of home prices in 20 metropolitan areas increased 6.8 percent in the 12 months to February after rising 6.4 percent in January.