U.S. stocks barely moved Monday. But bond yields continued to creep higher amid chatter that the Federal Reserve could begin winding down its stimulus sooner rather than later. Worries that the central bank could taper its $85 billion a month in bond purchases, or quantitative easing, as early as September has spurred a huge sell-off in bonds. Investors have yanked nearly $20 billion from bond mutual funds and exchange traded funds so far in August. That's the fourth highest pullback ever, according to TrimTabs data ( via theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com ).
In June, investors took out $69.1 billion - the highest on record. The heavy selling has pushed long-term bond rates to two-year highs, with the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield nearing 2.87%. "As much as bond professionals say they've never really liked QE, they're trading as though they miss it already," said Jim Vogel, interest rate strategist at FTN Financial. The Fed will remain in focus this week as investors look ahead to Wednesday. That's when the Fed releases minutes from its last monetary policy meeting. The Kansas City Fed also hosts its annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo. later this week. Concerns about the Fed tapering have hit stocks as well. The Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have dropped for two consecutive weeks. But with no economic data or significant earnings reports on tap Monday, the three major market indexes were only slightly higher. -CNN