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10-year Treasury yield hits seven-year high before retreating

Stocks were mixed at the end of trading Tuesday, with gains in technology stocks helping to buoy the Nasdaq. The yield on the benchmark Treasury note pulled back after reaching its highest level in seven years.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) fell 0.14%, or 4.09 points. The Dow (^DJI) fell 0.21%, or 56.21 points, while the Nasdaq (^IXIC) gained 0.03%, or 2.07 points.

Investor focus shifted to Treasuries as bond markets reopened after a holiday Monday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell back to 3.204% after rising to more than 3.25% in early trading, hitting a seven-year high. The 30-year Treasury note yield fell slightly to 3.364%.

While rising rates have put pressure on equities, not all investors think current bond yields are at levels high enough to be more attractive than stocks.

“When do equity investors go back to bonds? There is no magic number, but if we had to pick: 5%,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote in a note. They noted that 5% is the level of the 10-year Treasury bond yield “at which Wall Street’s average allocations to stocks peaked,” and is also their expected rate of return for the S&P 500 over the next decade.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 20, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEWS: IMF cuts global growth forecast, Trump says Fed is moving to fast with interest rate hikes

The International Monetary Fund cut its outlook for global growth for the first time since 2016 in the wake of increasing trade tensions and concerns in emerging markets. The Washington, D.C.–based lender expects the global economy to grow at a pace of 3.7% this year and next, down 0.2 percentage points from its earlier forecast. The IMF releases its World Economic Outlook report twice per year, in April and October.

“Growth in the United States, buoyed by a pro‑cyclical fiscal package, continues at a robust pace and is driving U.S. interest rates higher, but U.S. growth will decline once parts of its fiscal stimulus go into reverse,” Wafa Amr, a spokesperson for the IMF, said from prepared remarks during a press conference Tuesday. “Notwithstanding the present demand momentum in the U.S., we have downgraded its 2019 growth forecast, owing to the recently enacted tariffs on a wide range of imports from China and China’s retaliation.”

President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House Tuesday that the Federal Reserve is moving too fast with interest rate increases, according to a report from Bloomberg. “I don’t like” what the Fed is doing, Trump said, Bloomberg reported. The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate in September by 25 basis points, marking the third hike this year. The central bank suggested it would raise rates again in December, and could continue to increase rates in 2019.

STOCKS: Bill Ackman takes a major stake in Starbucks

Bill Ackman has taken a stake in Starbucks (SBUX) worth about $900 million, the Pershing Square Capital investor revealed at a conference Tuesday. Ackman’s fund has 15.2 million shares of the coffee seller, which Ackman called “one of the greatest businesses in the world.” He highlighted the company’s growth opportunities in China and among the younger demographic. Shares of Starbucks rose 2% to $57.71 at market close.

Shares of American Airlines (AAL) fell to a more than two-year low during intraday trading Tuesday after the world’s largest airline said its fuel costs were higher than it had expected in the last quarter. Average costs of jet fuel climbed to as much as $2.33 per gallon in the third quarter, up from a previous forecast of as much as $2.27, the company said in a statement Tuesday. The company also said it had been impacted by Hurricane Florence last month, losing out on $55 million in revenue in the quarter ending September 30 after having to cancel more than 2,000 flights. The stock was down 6.55% to $33.55 per share at market close Tuesday.

Microsoft (MSFT) is investing in Singapore-based ride-hailing company Grab, the software giant said in a statement Monday. Grab will use Microsoft Azure as its primary cloud platform, while Microsoft will make a “strategic investment” of undisclosed size in the transportation tech company. Grab bought out Uber’s business in Southeast Asia earlier this year, making it a key ride-share player in the region.

Shares of Papa John’s (PZZA) jumped on reports that Trian Fund Management is considering a takeover bid for the struggling restaurant company. Papa John’s has been seeking a buyer after the company’s founder John Schnatter was found to have used a racial slur during a conference call earlier this year. Trian Fund Management has an about 13% stake in fast food restaurant company Wendy’s. Shares of Papa John’s rose 8.89% to $54.90 at market close Tuesday.

ECONOMY: Small business optimism dips in September

Small business optimism in the U.S. slipped in September, according a report from the National Federation of Independent Business. The index registered at 107.9 for September, the third highest reading in the survey’s 45-year history, but declined from August’s record-breaking level of 108.8.

“This is a trivial dip, leaving the index still very elevated,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note. “The message is straightforward; labor demand is very strong, but people are becoming very difficult to find, and labor cost pressures are intensifying.”

Thirty-eight percent of business owners reported job openings they could not fill in the period, holding from August’s record high. A record total of a net 37% of business owners reported raising overall compensation, while a net 24% reported plans to raise compensation.

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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