Market Insider

Bond market volatility could rein in stocks

Pros' Monday bond trade
Pros' Monday bond trade

Bond market volatility could keep stocks in check in the coming week, as investors watch for more proof of momentum in the U.S. economy after May's strong jobs report.

The most important economic report is likely to be Thursday's report of May retails sales, expected to rise 1.1 percent after a flat performance in April. The 280,000 nonfarm payrolls created in May reaffirmed for an increasingly skeptical market that the Fed could move to hike rates this year and do it as early as September.

Read More Strong jobs report says rate hikes are coming

"What we're looking for is to be assured that this isn't a blip," said Tobias Levkovich, chief U.S. equity strategist at Citigroup. "I don't think it is. A lot of the leading data has been doing well—hiring intentions data, the data around capital spending intentions. All that stuff is relatively fine."

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

There is also the U.S. Producer Price Index Friday, and a heavy calendar of overseas data that could influence markets. Chinese consumer and producer inflation data is released Tuesday, and retail sales and industrial production is Thursday. German industrial production is reported Monday, and euro zone GDP is Tuesday.

Markets are also watching the volatile bond market where yields ripped higher in the past week, reaching levels last seen on the U.S. 10-year in October. The German bund market, influenced by European Central Bank policy, has been leading global rates higher, but the strength of some U.S. data and the prospect of Fed tightening has lent some support to the Treasury yield move.

In the past week, export data was better than expected and automakers reported a surge in May vehicle sales at an annualized selling pace of 17.7 million, a 10-year high.

Deutsche Bank chief U.S. economist Joseph LaVorgna said the retail sales number should show an improving consumer. Retail sales, less auto sales, are expected to rise 0.7 percent.

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"We should have a very good retail sales next week. We had a lot of retail hiring. Auto sales are good. We're due for the data to get better, relative to expectations," he said. The May jobs report came in well above economists' expectations for 225,000 nonfarm payrolls. Average hourly wages were also better than expected, at 0.3 percent.

Levkovich said stocks should not be troubled by the recent rise in rates, and even the Fed's initial move to hike rates should not be a problem. Wall Street widely expects the first rate hike to come in either September or December, though some forecasts put the first hike in 2016.

"I think (stocks) should trade OK," Levkovich said. "You could argue, and I think legitimately, that the Fed has been open as far as saying, 'We're going to be deliberate. We're going to be gradualistic.' I don't think they're going to go ahead with a radical move in rates that would have a radical reaction in the market…. They're going to be conservative. They don't want to undo what they've done over the last six years."

He said that ultimately higher rates could unsettle the stock market.

"Historically, the first Fed rate hike did not lead to problems in the market. It might have been the third or fourth," Levkovich said. "There's debate about the timing, but nobody expects it to be very rapid." He expects the to reach 2,200 this year.

Read More Shockingly weak productivity haunts US job gains

But some stock strategists believe the move toward higher rates could trigger selling pressure, and the stock market could correct around a Fed move.

LaVorgna, who expects the first rate hike in September, said poor financial conditions could even stall the Fed's action.

"There is a tremendous amount of time between now and September, and any number of things can happen for the Fed not to go, not the least of which could be volatile markets in the month of August ahead of a rate move," said LaVorgna.

Economists say the Fed wants to start the normalization process. But recent comments from some Fed officials, worried about the strength of the economy, raised market speculation that they could hold off. However, New York Fed President William Dudley on Friday, several hours after the jobs report, said the Fed is still likely on track to raise rates this year, though he too warned about the economy and the "muted" rebound from the first quarter.

Read More Fed's Dudley: Rate hike appropriate later this year

Stocks were lower in the past week. The was down 0.7 percent to 2092, and the Dow was off 0.9 percent to 17,849, but the small-cap Russell 2,000 rose 1.2 percent to 1,261. The best-performing sector was financials, up 0.8 percent as traders bet higher interest rates would help earnings. The worst performing sector was utilities, down 4.1 percent as investors dumped the sector that investors often look to for yield in low-interest-rate environments.

The dollar index lost 0.6 percent, as the euro gained 1.2 percent to $1.11.

The 10-year yield was at the key 2.4 percent level. While bond strategists say its swift run may have topped for now, the 2.4 level opens it for a move higher to the 2.6 percent range.

Oil was lower in the past week. West Texas Intermediate was down nearly 2 percent to $59.13 per barrel.

Besides economic reports, there could be headlines out of G7 at the end of its meetings over the weekend. Greece may also be in the news next week, after it deferred a more than 300 million euro payment to the IMF Friday.

Traders will also be watching on Tuesday for MSCI's decision on whether to include China's A shares in its emerging market index. If MSCI includes the Chinese shares, this could unleash a new wave of investing into China. The Shanghai index is already up more than 50 percent year to date.

What to Watch


Earnings: Vail Resorts, H&R Block, Dave & Buster's, Pep Boys


Earnings: HD Supply Holdings, Lululemon Athletica, Burlington Stores, Hovnanian, Quiksilver, Greif, Oxford Industries

7:30 a.m.: NFIB survey

10 a.m.: Wholesale trade, JOLTs

1 p.m.: $24 billion 3-year note auction


Earnings: Box, Krispy Kreme, Men's Wearhouse

7 a.m.: Mortgage applications

10 a.m.: Quarterly services survey (Census Bureau)

10:30 a.m.: Oil and gasoline inventories

1 p.m.: $21 billion 10-year auction

2 p.m.: Federal budget


Earnings: Restoration Hardware, Korn Ferry, Casey's General, ExOne

8:30 a.m.: Initial jobless claims, retail sales, import prices

10 a.m.: Business inventories

10:30 a.m.: Natural gas inventories

1 p.m.: $13 billion 30-year bond auction


8:30 a.m.: PPI

10 a.m.: Consumer sentiment