U.S. Stocks Slide More Firmly Into Negative Territory

wallstreet aug22 01apr22 lt

Stocks showed a lack of direction early in the session on Friday but have moved mostly lower over the course of the trading day. The major averages have slid more firmly into negative territory, extending the sell-off seen late in the previous session.

The major averages have seen further downside in recent trading, falling to new lows for the session. The Dow is down 136.97 points or 0.4 percent at 34,541.38, the Nasdaq is down 83.50 points or 0.6 percent at 14,137.02 and the S&P 500 is down 22.26 points or 0.5 percent at 4,508.15.

The weakness on Wall Street has partly been attributed to concerns about the economic outlook following an inversion of two-year and ten-year treasury yields, which is often a precursor for a recession.

Traders also remain worried about the outlook for interest rates after the Labor Department's closely watched monthly jobs report showed employment increased by less than expected in March but the unemployment rate still fell to a new pandemic-era low.

The report showed non-farm payroll employment jumped by 431,000 jobs in March after surging by an upwardly revised 750,000 jobs in February.

Economists had expected employment to spike by 490,000 jobs compared to the addition of 678,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

While the job growth in March fell short of estimates, revisions to data for the two previous months showed employment increased by 95,000 more jobs than previously reported.

The strong job growth still contributed to a drop in the unemployment rate, which dipped to 3.6 percent in March from 3.8 percent in February. The unemployment rate was expected to edge down to 3.7 percent.

With the bigger than expected decrease, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since hitting 3.5 percent in February of 2020.

Kathy Bostjancic, Chief U.S. Financial Economist at Oxford Economics, said the report "reinforces the Federal Reserve's strong resolve to rein in inflation and bolsters the case for a 50 basis point rate hike at the May meeting."

A separate report from the Institute for Supply Management unexpectedly showed a modest slowdown in the pace of growth in U.S. manufacturing activity in the month of March.

Sector News

Transportation stocks have moved sharply lower over the course of the session, dragging the Dow Jones Transportation Average down by 4.8 percent.

Ryder Systems (R), J.B. Transport Services (JBHT) and Norfolk Southern (NSC) are turning in some of the sector's worst performances on the day.

Substantial weakness has also emerged among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 3.1 percent nosedive by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index.

Computer hardware and banking stocks have also moved to the downside on the day, while strength is visible among biotechnology, real estate and oil service stocks.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index slid by 0.6 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index advanced by 0.9 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.4 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index edged up by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have climbed well off their worst levels but remain in negative territory. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 3.7 basis points at 2.364 percent after reaching a high of 2.456 percent.

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