U.S. economy adds back jobs but at slowing pace in August, unemployment rate falls
Stock indexes trade sharply lower early Friday, with the Nasdaq Composite under intense selling pressure in a turbulent session, as investors parsed better-than-expected August jobs report, following Thursday’s blistering bout of selling in technology and other highflying sectors.
U.S. markets on Monday will be closed in observance of Labor Day, which could add to the turbulence in equities, due to lower trading volumes.
How are stock-market benchmarks performing?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
traded 433 points, or 1.5%, lower at about 27,855, the S&P 500 index
fell 82 points, or 2.4%, at 3,373; while the Nasdaq Composite Index
traded 470 points lower, or 4.1%, at 10,975.
On Thursday, the Dow ended with a loss of 807.77 points, or 2.8%, at 28,292.73, after dropping more than 1,000 points at its session low. The S&P 500 closed 125.78 points lower, down 3.5%, at 3,455.06. The Nasdaq Composite tumbled 598.34 points, or 5%, to end at 11,458.10. The declines marked the biggest one-day drops for all three indexes since June.
The fall came a day after the S&P 500 claimed its 22nd record close of the year, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite arrived at its 43rd such all-time high and the Dow topped the 29,000 level for the first time since February. Thursday’s fall snapped a four-day win streak for the Nasdaq and a 10-day run of gains for the S&P 500’s tech sector.
What’s driving the market?
Investors early Friday were tumbling lower follow a jobs report that was better-than-estimated but still reflective of a slowdown in employment, against the backdrop of the worst single-day decline since June produced on Thursday.
Data from the Labor Department showed that the economy regained 1.4 million jobs in August and the unemployment rate fell to 8.4% from 10.2%. Economists polled by MarketWatch had predicted an increase of 1.2 million jobs.
Private-sector payrolls rose by a smaller 1 million. Hours worked rose 0.1 hour to 34.6 hours. The increase in hiring in July was reduced slightly to 1.73 million. Job gains in June were little changed at 4.79 million.
The report showed that the gains are “slow but steady which is actually a perfect thing to see overall,” JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist for TD Ameritrade, told MarketWatch. That said, the strategist said that investors may need to see more progress, especially given where the labor-market was in February.
“I want to see a couple more months of that before I’m shouting from the rooftops,” he said.
Mike Loewengart, managing director investment strategy at E-Trade Financial
said that investors could be in store for more turbulence after Thursday’s unsettling action.
“It’s been a while since we’ve been in the throes of the type of volatility that defined the market earlier this year, so investors may have some post-traumatic stress after yesterday’s landslide,” he wrote in emailed comments on Friday.
“For some perspective, September ushers in a historically volatile period for the market, and has a particularly bearish reputation,” he wrote. “Certainly, wide price swings are never comfortable, but investors should keep in mind that periods of volatility like this are not uncommon, especially on the heels of an epic rally, and should be taken in stride,” Loewengart said.
Some investment bulls believe that Thursday’s downturn wasn’t indicative of a broader unraveling of the overall upbeat momentum for equities.
Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities, said “we don’t think yesterdays plunge will turn into meaningful correction.”
“In other words, yesterdays decline is likely to be short lived as rotation maybe unfolding,” he said.
That said, some market player see Thursday’s moves as just the start of a purge of excess on Wall Street after equities surged to records following coronavirus-induced lows in late March.
“Diminishing breadth, the weakest seasonal period of the year (even for election years), over extended rallies in specific mega-cap names, and an approaching presidential election that brings great uncertainty are all likely reasons for yesterday’s plunge in the market,” wrote Jeff deGraaf, founder of Renaissance Macro, in a Friday research note.
Which stocks are in focus?
- Apple Inc.
shares traded 5.4% lower after an 8% tumble for the company’s worst day since March 16, when shares plunged 12.9%.
- Athletic company Under Armour Inc.
said Friday it will close all of its UA Brand House and UA Factory House retail locations in the U.S. for Thanksgiving on Nov. 26., as a way to thank workers for their efforts during the pandemic. Under Armour’s class of shares were modestly lower.
- Shares of Tesla Inc.
fell 4.6% Friday, as the electric-vehicle makers attempts to avoid a fourth straight decline.
How are other markets trading?
The ICE U.S. Dollar Index
which tracks the performance of the greenback against its major rivals, rose 0.4% on Friday.