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ASX set to open lower; Wall Street mixed

By Stan Choe

September 26, 2023 — 5.20am

A sluggish start to the week is keeping September on track to be the worst month of the year for Wall Street.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2 per cent in afternoon trading, coming off its worst week in six months. The Dow Jones was down 0.3 per cent and the Nasdaq composite was 0.1 per cent lower. The Australian sharemarket is set to slide at the open, with futures at 5.03am AEST pointing to a fall of 24 points, or 0.3 per cent, at the open. The ASX added 0.1 per cent on Monday.

Wall Street has made a mixed start to the week.

Wall Street has made a mixed start to the week. Credit: Reuters

Stocks have struggled recently as the realisation sinks in that the Federal Reserve will likely keep interest rates high well into next year. The Fed wants to ensure high inflation gets back down to its target, and it said last week it will likely cut interest rates in 2024 by less than traders expected. Its main interest rate is already at its highest level since 2001.

A growing understanding that rates will stay higher for longer has pushed yields in the bond market up to their highest levels in more than a decade. That in turn makes investors less willing to pay high prices for all kinds of investments, particularly those seen as the most expensive or making their owners wait the longest for big future growth.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 4.53 per cent from 4.44 per cent late Friday and is near its highest level since 2007. That’s up sharply from about 3.50 per cent in May and from 0.50 per cent about three years ago.


“Stocks digest gradual, growth-driven increases in interest rates far better than rapid increases driven by other factors such as inflation or Fed policy,” Goldman Sachs strategists led by David Kostin wrote in a report.

Higher yields are at the head of a long line of concerns weighing on Wall Street. Economies around the world are looking shaky, oil prices have jumped by $US20 per barrel since June and the resumption of US student-loan repayments may weaken what’s been the economy’s greatest strength, spending by households.

In the near term, the US government may be set for another shutdown amid more political squabbles on Capitol Hill. But Wall Street has managed its way through previous shutdowns, and “history shows that past ones haven’t had much of an impact on the market,” according to Chris Larkin, managing director of trading and investing at E-Trade from Morgan Stanley.

On Wall Street, stocks of energy companies rose to some of the market’s biggest gains. Crude oil prices regressed a bit Monday, but only after earlier rallying to roughly $US90 per barrel. Exxon Mobil gained 1.3 per cent, and ConocoPhillips rose 1.7 per cent.

Higher oil prices mean more pressure on travel-related companies that count fuel among their biggest costs. Southwest Airlines sank 1.5 per cent, and Norwegian Cruise Line fell 1.8 per cent.

Stocks of media and entertainment companies were mixed after unionised screenwriters reached a tentative deal on Sunday to end their historic strike. No deal yet exists for striking actors.

Netflix rose 1 per cent, while The Walt Disney Co. slipped 0.4 per cent. Warner Brothers Discover dropped 2.6 per cent for one of the biggest losses in the S&P 500.

Amazon rose 1.8 per cent after it announced an investment of up to $US4 billion ($6.2 billion) in Anthropic, as it takes a minority stake in the artificial intelligence startup. It’s the latest Big Tech company to pour money into AI in the race to profit from opportunities that the latest generation of the technology is set to fuel.


In stock markets abroad, indexes slumped sharply across Europe and much of Asia. France’s CAC 40 fell 0.9 per cent, and Germany’s DAX lost 1 per cent.

In China, troubled property developer China Evergrande sank nearly 22 per cent after announcing it was unable to raise further debt due to an investigation into one of its affiliates. That might imperil plans for restructuring its more than $US300 billion in debt.

China’s faltering economic recovery has already removed a big engine of growth for the world.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.8 per cent, while stocks in Shanghai fell 0.5 per cent.