Bond yields jump as stocks ease on investor jitters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bond yields shot up and global equity markets were jumpy on Thursday as investor jitters over the likelihood of rising inflation and high stock valuations dampened the appetite for risk assets after a euphoric January in markets.

The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Staff/Remote

Yields on the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond US30YT=RR passed 3 percent for the first time since May 2017 and the 10-year note rose to an almost four-year high of 2.793 percent a day after the Federal Reserve raised market concerns about inflation.

An Institute for Supply Management survey showed signs of a pickup in inflation, with a measure of prices paid by factories for raw materials hitting its highest since May 2011.

Earlier in Germany, the benchmark 10-year bund hit more than two-year highs as yields firmed across the euro zone due to signs of inflation.

Gold prices eased and the dollar slipped, lifting the euro to levels last seen in December 2014.

European shares, as marked by the pan-regional STOXX 600 index .STOXX, fell for a fourth day, led lower by Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk NOVOb.CO after its operating profit fell short of expectations.

“At currently high valuations for developed market equities, investors should tread cautiously in what remains a top-of-cycle environment, even if rising bond yields are more likely a headwind than a precursor to a crisis,” said Alastair George, chief strategist at Edison Investment Research.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS slipped 0.08 percent after the close after rising during the regular session. Stocks on Wall Street traded near break-even in a see-saw session.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 37.32 points, or 0.14 percent, to 26,186.71. The S&P 500 .SPX lost 1.83 points, or 0.06 percent, to 2,821.98 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 25.62 points, or 0.35 percent, to 7,385.86.

In Europe, the STOXX 600 closed down 0.5 percent and the pan-regional FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 lost 0.62 percent.

Stretched valuations, a long overdue pullback in stocks and uncertainty over a potential shutdown of the U.S. federal government are driving a sense of caution in the market, said Peter Kenny, senior market strategist at Global Markets Advisory Group in New York.

“Rising interest rates don’t necessary mean a hard stop for equity prices moving higher but they do add a degree of moderation to the enthusiasm,” Kenny said.

The dollar, which fell 3.25 percent in January to mark its weakest monthly performance since March 2016, pared gains against the yen as stocks fell in Europe and treaded water on Wall Street.

The dollar has struggled as expected monetary policy tightening elsewhere in the world, along with stronger global economic growth, encouraged investors to go abroad, particularly the euro zone.

The dollar index .DXY fell 0.56 percent, with the euro EUR= up 0.71 percent to $1.2508. The Japanese yen JPY= weakened 0.15 percent versus the greenback at 109.35 per dollar.

Germany's 10-year government bond DE10YT=RR yield, the benchmark for the euro zone, hit a more than two-year high of 0.738 percent.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes US10YT=RR last fell 17/32 in price to yield 2.7840 percent, up from 2.72 percent late on Wednesday.

Oil rose after a survey showed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ commitment to its supply cuts remains in place, even as U.S. production topped 10 million barrels per day for the first time since 1970.

U.S. crude CLcv1 rose $1.07 to settle $65.80 per barrel and Brent LCOcv1 settled up 76 cents at $69.65.

U.S. gold futures GCcv1 futures for April delivery settled up $4.80 at $1,347.90 per ounce.

Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Nick Zieminski and James Dalgleish