Interest rates are surging in the U.S. and around the world, sending shock waves through equity markets. The last time this kind of breakout in bond yields struck, U.S. stocks tumbled more than 10 percent.
When the 10-year Treasury note yield broke above resistance in late January, the stock market sharply corrected, Miller Tabak equity analyst Matt Maley said in a note to clients Thursday. Between the S&P 500's high on Jan. 26 to the year-to-date low on Feb. 9, the market fell nearly 12 percent as the benchmark bond yield broke out to multiyear resistance around 2.6 percent.
After the kind of yield action this week, he wouldn't be surprised if the market again gets "knocked off balance in a significant way."
"We're seeing a similar thing now, where the yield on the 10-year note is breaking strongly above 3.1 percent, which is a multiyear high. … People have been talking about how whenever we see these gradual rises in rates, it's really not a problem, but when you do get these big spikes, like we got back in January, it does create disruption in the marketplace. That's what we're worried about right now," Maley said Thursday on CNBC's "Trading Nation. "
The market did erase its losses in early March, and the rally before the early 2018 downturn was more intense than the current environment, but Maley argues that even without a "spike" in equities, it can still prove vulnerable.
"I don't think we're going to have a major crash, but the recent all-time high was really only a slight one, and that's a double-top. That's exactly what we saw in 2007, and exactly what we saw in 2000 just before the markets rolled over. There are some similarities, there are some differences, but we just have to be a little bit worried," he said.
The 10-year Treasury note yield rose to its highest level in seven years this week, while yields for shorter-dated notes surged to their own multiyear highs. Some market watchers are turning to sectors that typically benefit from rising rates, like the financials.
"This is definitely a shot of adrenaline for the banks, especially regional banks," Mark Tepper, president and CEO of Strategic Wealth Partners, said Thursday on "Trading Nation. "
Tepper is optimistic on the banks due in part to increasingly less accommodative policy from the Federal Reserve and relatively strong U.S. economic data.
"All of these regional bank stocks have been on life support because the yield curve has continued to flatten throughout the year, and in order for these banks to boost their net interest margins, they need to see that curve steepen. We're finally seeing that happen, which is going to be a tailwind for these bank earnings," he said.
Tepper is particularly bullish on shares of Huntington Bancshares, a regional bank based in Columbus, Ohio. The stock has outperformed its regional bank peers in the last three months, rallying nearly 5 percent while the regional bank-tracking ETF has fallen 2 percent.