Bond-market carnage triggers selloff in U.S. stock futures

U.S. stock futures moved sharply lower on Thursday, tracking a selloff in European equities where a renewed bout of bond-market chaos lured investors out of riskier assets.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 75 points, or 0.4%, to 18,021, while those for the S&P 500 index dropped 10.25 points, or 0.5%, to 2,105.75. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index gave up 32 points, or 0.7%, to 4,495.50.

“The overriding factor [behind the selloff] is the European bond-market volatility, which started yesterday afternoon, and we’ve seen this volatility transpire into the equity market in Europe this morning and in U.S. futures as well,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda.

“And that all stems from the fact that we’ve seen higher inflation rates in the eurozone and therefore naturally bond yields have to rise in tandem with them. The reason we’ve seen so much volatility is because of a lack of liquidity,” he added.

On Wednesday, the yield on 10-year German bunds jumped to the highest level so far this year after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said investors must get used to periods of higher volatility, and added the ECB won’t do anything about it. The ECB also lifted its eurozone inflation forecast to 0.3%, from 0% expected previously, further driving yields higher.

Data: Weekly jobless claims due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time are forecast to have fallen to 278,000 from 282,000, according to economists polled by MarketWatch.

At the same time, data on U.S. productivity and unit-labor costs data for the first quarter are on tap.

The reports come ahead of the closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday, which is one of the key indicators the Federal Reserve considers when assessing the best time to hike interest rates.

Also on Thursday, Fed governor Daniel Tarullo appears at the IIF North America Summit in New York at noon Eastern. Tarullo is a voting member of the policy-setting committee.

Erlam noted that apart from the overriding European bond-market story, investors are also watching U.S. data and any clues from the Fed, which he said has become a bit more hawkish.

“We’ve seen good economic data from the U.S. yesterday with the ADP report, so we’re likely to see a strong jobs report tomorrow. And we also have recent comments from [Fed Chairwoman] Janet Yellen that despite the weak winter period, the Fed is still likely to hike rates this year. It’s a good support story for the selloff,” he said.

Market Watch

Craig Erlam
Based in London, England, Craig Erlam joined OANDA in 2015 as a Market Analyst. With more than five years' experience as a financial market analyst and trader, he focuses on both fundamental and technical analysis while conducting macroeconomic commentary. He has been published by The Financial Times, Reuters, the BBC and The Telegraph, and he also appears regularly as a guest commentator on Bloomberg TV, CNBC, FOX Business and BNN. Craig holds a full membership to the Society of Technical Analysts and he is recognized as a Certified Financial Technician by the International Federation of Technical Analysts.