Dow Falls More Than 660 Points, Dragging Most Media Stocks Down With It

trading floor
Richard Drew/AP

Financial markets took a drubbing this week amid investor concerns about rising interest rates.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled more than 660 points Friday, marking the worst week since January 2016.  Meanwhile, the benchmark 10-year Treasury note hit a four-year high.

One factor is Friday’s jobs report, which showed a strong United States economy might be translating to rising wages for workers — a harbinger of inflation.

Rising bond yields also contributed the recent market volatility. As bond rates climb, that drives up the cost companies pay to borrow money. That, in turn, has fanned fears that the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates to keep pace with inflation. (The Fed’s easy money policies of the past helped contribute to the market’s strength, because the rate of returns on government debt was so low it was unattractive to investors.)

Most media stocks have been dragged down, along with the market. The Walt Disney Co., which started the week trading at $112.10, closed Friday at $108.70, a drop of 3%. Comcast Corp. similarly fell 3% from Monday’s opening price of $42.22 to Friday’s close at $41.11.

CBS, which saw its stock rally Thursday as it announced the board has begun a formal process to consider merging with Viacom, ended the week down nearly 7%, with the stock closing at $55.40. Viacom, which saw a modest blip on Thursday, was off 5% to close at $32.22.

One media company considered a possible take-over target, Lionsgate, saw its stock sag nearly 6% to close at $33.53.

Sony Corp. was the lone media company to defy the trend. Its stock rose 6% to close at $51.99 Friday, rising dramatically on news that Kaz Hirai is stepping down as chief executive and will be replaced by Chief Financial Officer Kenichiro Yoshida.

Industry observers say the nearly 7% stock bump over the week signal speculation that the incoming CEO might be open to selling off the company’s entertainment assets. Hirai was an ardent supporter of the film studio, once publicly declaring, “I will seriously put a sign on the water tower that says, ‘Not for sale.”

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