European Markets Close Lower Amid Rising U.S. Bond Yields; StanChart Down 6%

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  • European markets fell Thursday as investors grew wary of rising U.S. bond yields.
  • The yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury note rose to a one-year high Thursday.
  • ABInBev, Standard Chartered, and Telefonica were among the firms reporting earnings.

LONDON — European stocks closed lower Thursday as investors grew wary of rising U.S. bond yields.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.27%, with chemicals shares falling 1.8% to lead losses as most sectors and major bourses finished in negative territory.

On Wall Street, stocks fell as higher bond yields continued to put pressure on high-growth technology stocks.

Yields had come off their highs after Jerome Powell continued to downplay the threat of inflation on Wednesday, saying it could take three years to reach the central bank's target consistently.

In the testimony in front of the House Financial Services Committee, Powell said inflation could be volatile as the economy reopens and there's increased demand. Still, the Fed chair does not expect inflation to run hot and said the central bank has tools to combat it if it should.

But by 4 p.m. London time Thursday, the 10-year yield spiked further to pass 1.49%, hitting a one-year high and prompting a return to caution from equity investors.

U.S. data releases were also watched carefully by global investors Thursday for more clues on the state of the American economy: initial jobless claims fell sharply to 730,000 for the week ended Feb. 20, well below the Dow Jones estimate of 845,000.

Earnings in focus

It was a busy day for earnings in Europe, with the world's largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, Veolia, AXA, Bayer, Standard Chartered, Aston Martin, Telefonica and Adecco Group all reporting before the bell.

AB InBev forecast higher revenues in 2021, but also projected inflated costs and a possible hit to margins, sending the company's stock 6% lower.

Standard Chartered reaffirmed its long-term profit targets and restored its dividend Thursday, though higher credit impairments due to the Covid-19 pandemic led to a 57% fall in annual profit for 2020, missing analysts' expectations. The British lender's stock fell 6%.

Italy's Tenaris was the biggest mover, jumping more than 13% after initially failing to start trading following the steel pipe manufacturer's bumper fourth-quarter earnings report.

At the bottom of the European blue chip index, British livestock genetics company Genus slid 5% after highlighting short-term challenges in its efforts to restock China's pig farming industry.

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