US stock indexes slid for the fifth straight session on Thursday as fresh signs of a tight labor market raised expectations of an aggressive approach by the Federal Reserve, lifting bond yields and pressuring growth stocks.
The weekly jobless claims fell more-than-expected last week and layoffs dropped in August, consistent with strong demand for workers. Investors now await the monthly nonfarm payrolls report on Friday for more evidence on the labor market.
Economists polled by Reuters sees jobs increase of 300,000, while Wells Fargo economist Jay Bryson revised his forecast for nonfarm payrolls to 375,000 from 325,000.
“The data coming out still keeps reaffirming how strong the labor market is… even if you get 200,000-250,000 job numbers (tomorrow), that is still a labor market that is too strong to control inflation and just indicates the Fed has work to do,” said Ronald Temple, head of U.S. equity at Lazard Asset Management.
Chipmakers lost 4.4%, led by a 11.5% drop in shares of Nvidia and 6.6% in Advanced Micro Devices after the United States imposed an export ban on some top AI chips to China.
Meanwhile, latest data showed a further easing in price pressures, while manufacturing grew steadily in August, thanks to a rebound in employment and new orders. Still, traders expect a 77.1% chance of a third straight 75 basis points increase in rates in September and expect it to peak around 3.977% in March 2023.
The benchmark S&P 500 has dropped 9.6% since hitting a four-month high in August, with much of the losses triggered by Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s hawkish view on interest rate hikes to bring inflation below the 2% target.
Investors are worried about how much and how long the Fed will raise rates, with Wall Street’s main indexes recording their weakest August performance in seven years in the previous session.
“I do see more downside and testing the June lows would make sense. From a Fed’s perspective, they’d prefer to have a Wall Street recession than a Main Street recession,” Temple said.
At 12:04 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 112.52 points, or 0.36%, at 31,397.91, the S&P 500 was down 36.07 points, or 0.91%, at 3,918.93, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 233.88 points, or 1.98%, at 11,582.32.
All the three main indexes are trading below their 50-day moving average and the 50% Fibonacci retracement level from their June low to August high, two key indicators watched by analysts as support.
Healthcare, consumer staples and utlities sectors, which perform better during uncertainty and economic downturn, rose.
Boeing Co dipped 5.6% as the planemaker expects its 737 MAX 10 jet to be certified by U.S. regulators next year and the MAX 7 variant by the end of 2022.
Qualcomm Inc slipped 4.1% after the UK-based chip firm Arm sued the chipmaker and its recently acquired chip design firm Nuvia Inc for breach of license agreements and trademark infringement.
Hormel Foods Corporation fell 5.8% after packaged foods maker cut its full-year profit forecast.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 5.93-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 3.80-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded one new 52-week highs and 34 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 15 new highs and 306 new lows.