Markets tanked Monday as investors assessed whether the global economy was moving away from the slow growth, low inflation and low interest rates that prevailed over the last decade.
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index was off by nearly 4 percent Monday. The weakness built off the previous week, when stocks had their worst performance in two years.
If the momentary market sputter turns into something worse, it could become awkward for President Donald Trump. He has repeatedly claimed credit for the surging stock market, and gave the markets a high-profile mention at his State of the Union address last week. At its recent peak, the S&P 500 was up 27 percent since Trump took office. But that number has slipped with the recent sell-off to roughly 20 percent.
Trump's habit of regularly boasting about stock market increases is a practice other presidents avoided because they knew that what goes up may go down again and they did not want to take the blame for market forces beyond their control.
The weakness on display in the U.S. markets last week set a tone for the open of trading in foreign markets. Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped by 2.6 percent Monday. Benchmark equity indexes in France, Italy and Spain all fell by more than 1 percent.
Bond markets, too, were soft. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury ? a cornerstone of the interest rates that matter to consumers, like those for mortgages ? remained above 2.8 percent Monday.
Treasury yields have moved sharply higher in recent weeks, as a broad global economic expansion and incipient signs of upward pressure on wages in the United States. Investors appear concerned that inflationary pressure could push central banks to move quickly to remove support for their economies.
That support, which has included keeping short-term interest rates low and taking extraordinary measures to push longer-term interest rates lower, has been seen as the fuel behind the long bull market for stocks.
"We think there is growing concern about the inexorable rise getting out of hand," Morgan Stanley stock market analysts wrote in a note Monday.
A sharp rise in bond yields could be a cause for concern about the economy. Yields on government bonds like U.S. Treasury bonds are effectively the price that governments pay to borrow from global investors. The yields provide a baseline for determining the costs of borrowing for entities ranging from large corporations to first-time homebuyers.
On the other hand, there are good reasons for yields to be climbing. Bond yields typically move higher during times of robust economic growth, and the world's large economies are now growing the first time since the financial crisis hit nearly a decade ago.
On Monday, an index of eurozone purchasing manager activity, considered a good gauge of economic growth, hit a 12-year high, suggesting that the surprisingly strong European economy has further room to expand. Last year, the monetary bloc grew at its fastest annual pace in a decade.
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Economists at the French bank BNP Paribas recently upgraded their forecast for economic growth in the eurozone from 2.8 percent from 2.4 percent.
"The economic upswing underway in the eurozone is proving stronger than many had initially assumed," they wrote in a note to clients last week.