Why the Dow's Not Bothered by 3% Bond Yields

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

For years, during the bull market that has followed the financial crisis, stock and bond prices have moved in the same direction, with the stock market rallying even as interest rates fall. But historically, the bond and stock markets have tended to move in opposite directions. We're starting to see that dynamic reassert itself now that the Federal Reserve appears ready to step back from its bond market interventions. After a measure of services-industry growth hit its highest level in almost eight years and weekly first-time unemployment claims fell to a five-year low, the 10-year Treasury yield jumped within a few hundredths of a percentage point of the 3% mark. The big rise in yields since May has led to some minor corrections for the stock market, but it hasn't led to an outright crash, and the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has managed to gain seven points as of 10:45 a.m. EDT today.

Among individual Dow components, though, today's moves appear more motivated by company-specific news than by fears about the bond market. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) is the biggest gainer this morning, as the company won an important legal battle in a lawsuit that could have allowed thousands of homeowners to make claims against the bank for allegedly failing to follow guidelines of the Home Affordable Modification Program. A judge denied class-action status for borrowers, so potential plaintiffs would have to bring claims individually, making pooled expense-sharing impossible and greatly reducing the chance that B of A will face substantial liability.

AT&T (NYSE: T  ) has fallen 1% amid reports that it might be in talks with major investors in Italy's Telecom Italia (NYSE: TI  ) to acquire their stakes in the European telecom company. AT&T didn't comment, but investors have speculated that the company will need to make some sort of response to rival Verizon's decision to take full control of its Verizon Wireless division. With the Verizon move having repercussions throughout the global telecom market, AT&T has an opportunity to establish a growth strategy that involves a more outward-looking presence, as opposed to Verizon's focus on the U.S. market.

Finally, Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) has climbed 0.5%. The Wall Street Journal reported that the company faces an interesting potential battle with DISH Network because their agreement regarding transmission rights for ESPN and Disney's other television properties will end as of the beginning of October. Given the high-profile battle between CBS and Time Warner Cable recently, the higher stakes involved with the highly popular ESPN could make an even bigger impact on the content wars going forward.

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