(Aug 18): Wall Street’s main indexes fell on Thursday after latest data suggested labour market conditions remain tight, while investors assessed minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July meeting that indicated a less aggressive monetary policy tightening path.
Eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors declined in early trading, with consumer discretionary and communication services stocks leading losses.
Labor Department data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week and data for the prior period was revised sharply down.
“Jobless claims fell again this week, showing the strength of the labor market,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance.
“Unfortunately, what’s good for the American worker is bad for the Fed’s attempt to being inflation back down to 2%.”
Traders are still seeing a slightly greater probability of the Fed raising rates by 50 basis points in September, rather than a third 75 basis-point hike.
“I would characterize yesterday’s release of the minutes from last meeting really less hawkish,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B Riley Wealth.
Data showing softer-than-expected inflation in July has sparked a risk-on rally in Wall Street in the last few weeks, with focus now on the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole symposium next week.
Either a 50 bps or 75 bps rate hike in September would be a “reasonable” way to get short-term borrowing costs to a little over 3% by year end and a little higher than that in 2023, San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President Mary Daly said on Thursday.
The Fed has lifted its benchmark interest rate by 225 bps so far this year to control four-decades high inflation.
At 10.05am ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 97.62 points, or 0.29%, at 33,882.70, the S&P 500 was down 8.11 points, or 0.19%, at 4,265.93, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 46.37 points, or 0.36%, at 12,891.75.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq has bounced nearly 22% from its mid-June lows, while the benchmark S&P 500 has risen 17%, supported by upbeat results from corporate America.
However, retail earnings have been mixed so far, with encouraging reports from Walmart and Home Depot earlier this week, while Target’s profit slump dragged the retail sector .SPXRT down 1.2% on Wednesday.
Kohl’s Corp slid 4% after the retailer cut its full-year sales and profit forecasts.
Verizon Communications Inc declined 2.5% after MoffettNathanson downgraded the telecom operator’s shares.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.13-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.45-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded three new 52-week highs and 29 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 26 new highs and 31 new lows.
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