Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

A sharp fall in bond yields in the wake of Fed Governor Lael Brainard’s dovish statement on Fed policy pushed financial stocks over the edge in this morning’s US market.

Apart from United Technologies (down 3.7% on news of an aggressive acquisition) the bottom five performs in the S&P 100 are all financials: Goldman Sachs is down 3%, and Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, and Citigroup are all down about 2%. This is partly a response to the Korea mess but also an expression of concern about the US economy. If the Fed is afraid to raise rates, the market figures, the US economy can’t be doing that well.

Asia Unhedged noted on Friday that the two major diffusion indices for US manufacturing, the purchasing managers’ indices calculated by NAPM and Markit, point in opposite directions. The Markit index showed several months of decline, indicating that the US manufacturing sector is close to a “stall,” according to Markit chief economist Chris Williamson. Markit claims that its survey is broader than NAPM’s and includes a lot more small business. It’s hard to explain the discrepancy, but the Lael Brainard statement seems to have spooked the market.

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