US tech stock futures picked up on Wednesday after the Nasdaq fell the previous day, while the ongoing fall in bond yields encouraged investors back into equities.
Meanwhile, oil prices bounced after their recent slide, with a major ship blockage of the Suez canal potentially delaying supply.
Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.84% on Wednesday morning after the index slipped 0.53% on Tuesday. S&P 500 futures were up 0.37% while Dow Jones futures were 0.3% higher.
Asian stocks followed the lead of the US and fell overnight, with China’s CSI 300 losing 1.61% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 sliding 2.04%.
European stocks also slipped in early trading, as rising coronavirus cases and fresh lockdowns unnerved investors for a second day.
The continent-wide Stoxx 600 was off by 0.34% while the UK’s FTSE 100 was 0.28% lower.
Rising bond yields have triggered some volatility in the stock markets in recent weeks, making stocks look less attractive and hitting expensive technology companies in particular.
Bond yields have jumped in line with a pickup in expectations for stronger growth and inflation among investors, who in turn demand higher returns. Some also worry central banks will cut back on support for the economy sooner than expected.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has stressed the central bank will keep up its support for the foreseeable future, helping soothe the bond market in recent days.
“The recovery is far from complete,” Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday. He also said the Fed thinks the effect of the economic recovery on inflation will be “neither particularly large, nor persistent.”
The key 10-year US Treasury note yield, which moves inversely to the price, fell 1.2 basis points to 1.626% on Wednesday after touching a high of 1.75% the previous week. It started the year at around 0.92%.
Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will testify to Congress again on Wednesday.
Chris Scicluna of Daiwa Capital Markets said the moves in yields were mainly driven “by concerns about the recent pick-up in European coronavirus cases and the latest extension of restrictions in Germany.”
Yet he said they were “reinforced by Fed Chair Powell’s sanguine comments on the outlook for inflation.”
Oil prices bounced on Wednesday, rising by more than 3%, as investors weighed up the impact on crude supply from the Ever Given container ship becoming lodged length-ways in the crucial Suez Canal trade route. Much of the world’s oil passes through this route.
Brent crude oil rose 3.1% to $62.66 a barrel, although it remained well off a high of more than $70 touched earlier in March. WTI crude oil climbed 3.12% to $59.55 a barrel.