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US rates surge and most portfolio managers don’t know what to do

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Interest rates are hitting multiyear highs at a time when most portfolio managers have never dealt with this phenomenon before.

The U.S. 10-year Treasury note yield rose to its highest level since 2011 on Tuesday, while the short-term two-year yield traded near levels not seen in about a decade, raising concern about how portfolio managers will navigate this changing investment landscape.

But most of them have never operated in a rising rates environment. Themedian tenure of an active equity manager is eight years, according to Fundstrat, citing figures gathered from Morningstar.

The last time rates were in a significant uptrend was from 2003 to 2006 before the financial crisis struck.

“There are a lot of people that haven’t been through many things in this youthful industry,” said Timothy Parton, a portfolio manager at J.P. Morgan. “The time when rates are rising coincides with a period in the cycle that is tough for any manager. You don’t want to be too cautious, but you don’t want to be too aggressive too early.”

The Fed slashed the overnight rate down to zero in 2008 during the aftermath of the financial crisis. The central bank’s goal at the time was to stimulate the economy. Now that the economy is out of its financial-crisis trough, the Fed has started to gradually hike rates closer to historical levels and market rates have responded.

Since late 2015, the Fed has raised rates a total of six times — including once this year —bringing the overnight rate to a range of 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent. Market participants are expecting the Fed to raise rates at least twice more in 2018 and many think they may even raise four times.

“We’re concerned about rising interest rates,” said Walter Price, senior portfolio manager at Allianz Global Investors. “Last year, we got a lot of multiple expansion. We think that’s unlikely in a rising rate environment.”

J.P. Morgan’s Parton and Allianz’s Price have seen their share of rising-rate cycles. Parton has worked in portfolio management since the late 1980s, while Price has 45 years of experience in the financial industry.



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Tech shares come roaring back, led by Netflix and Amazon

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Technology stocks moved sharply higher Friday, after a two-day slaughter saw the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index fall briefly into correction territory, down 10 percent from its recent highs.

Technology Select SPDR Fund, which tracks the S&P 500 technology sector, rose 3 percent in trading. Tech stocks were led by Netflix and Amazon, up 5.8 percent and 4 percent, respectively, while chipmakers AMD and Nvidia both rose more than 4 percent. Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet and Twitter shares were rose 2 percent or more.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose more than 270 points in a rebound Friday.

Netflix and Microsoft were boosted by upgrades from Wall Street analysts who said the sell-off had gone far enough. Amazon was one of the stocks CNBC’s Jim Cramer said he was adding as part of his broader view that a market turnaround was due on Friday.

Tech stocks got clobbered during a sell-off across stock markets this week, amid concerns over rising interest rates, escalating trade tensions and tighter monetary policy. The past two days saw Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet all in correction territory after taking big hits this week.

On Thursday, the Nasdaq became the first major U.S. stock market benchmark to dip into a correction, falling as low as 7,274 in intraday trading — a drop over 10 percent from the most recent 52-week trading high of 8,133.30. A correction on Wall Street is defined as down more than 10 percent from its high.

Amazon is one of the top names to buy in this environment, according to Cramer. Although shares of Amazon trade at $1,776 a share, Cramer said he doesn’t know “when you buy Amazon other than when it’s down big and people are really scared.”



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Tencent Music to postpone its IPO until November due to global market selloff: WSJ, citing sources

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The logos of QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo are seen on the screen of an iPhone on June 12, 2018 in Paris, France. QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo are the three streaming Chinese music services owned by Tencent. 

Chesnot | Getty Images

The logos of QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo are seen on the screen of an iPhone on June 12, 2018 in Paris, France. QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo are the three streaming Chinese music services owned by Tencent. 

Tencent Music Entertainment Group will postpone its highly anticipated initial public offering because of the recent sell-off, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday citing people familiar with the deal.

The Journal reported that the company met with its underwriters this week, but sources said Tencent Music ultimately decided to push its debut back amid concerns that the sell-off would affect its pricing.

Stocks fell sharply Thursday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing more than 500 points lower, bringing its two-day losses to more than 1,300 points. Investors dumped equities around the globe amid concerns about rapidly rising interest rates, a possible global economic slowdown and overly ambitious tech valuations. The Nasdaq on Thursday became the first major benchmark to fall into correction territory.

Sources told the Journal that Tencent Music was originally set to kick off its roadshow next week and begin trading the following week. The Journal reported that the division now plans to wait until November.

The music arm of Chinese tech giant Tencent owns the four largest music apps in China and counts industry competitor Spotify as a backer. According to a prospectus filed earlier this month, Tencent Music plans on raising as much as $1 billion in what could be the largest U.S. IPO by a Chinese company since Alibaba raised over $20 billion in 2014.

Parent company Tencent owns 58 percent of the music division, while recently public Spotify owns 9 percent of shares.

Tencent did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Read the full report in The Wall Street Journal.

— CNBC’s Sara Salinas, Fred Imbert and Michael Sheetz contributed to this report.



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Sears has been liquidating outside of bankruptcy for years 

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In this Nov. 17, 2004 file photo, Kmart chairman Edward Lampert listens during a news conference to announce the merger of Kmart and Sears in New York.

Gregory Bull | AP

In this Nov. 17, 2004 file photo, Kmart chairman Edward Lampert listens during a news conference to announce the merger of Kmart and Sears in New York.

When Sears Holdings CEO Eddie Lampert merged Sears and Kmart in 2005, he believed that combining two fading giants would create a fortified competitor to stand up against new rivals like Walmart. But the deal was unable to stem the decline.

Over the past decade, Sears has had just one quarter of positive same-store sales. Unable to rely on the Sears’ business to pay the bills, Lampert instead sold or spun off many of its most valuable stores and brands. A thinning cash flow has left little money to reinvest in the company itself, letting it become more irrelevant as new competitors like Amazon rise.

In effect, Lampert liquidated Sears outside of a formal bankruptcy proceeding. But now, as Sears is staring down the real threat of bankruptcy, those moves may come back to haunt it.

Sears is asking lenders for money to support it in bankruptcy, but it has little to offer them by way of collateral or reassurance. That dearth makes it harder to avoid full-out liquidation, though not impossible, whether that comes before or after filing for protection, people familiar with the ongoing talks say.



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