The S&P 500 fell Wednesday on signs of weakness in the labor market market that spooked investors at a time when the Federal Reserve continues to signal that easy monetary policy measures will soon come to an end.
The S&P 500 fell 0.5%, the NASDAQ Composite was up 0.1%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.9%, or 323 points.
There appears more reason to be concerned in the labor market as private payrolls fell well short of expectations. ADP reported that private-sector employment rose by 330,000 in July, less than half the 690,000 rise expected.
The jobs front has come under added scrutiny in recently, as the Federal Reserve said the job gains still have a way to go to reach pre-pandemic levels, but will eventually hit the central bank's maximum employment target, paving the way for a lift off in rates.
“Given this outlook and so long as inflation expectations remain well anchored at the 2% longer-run goal … commencing policy normalization in 2023 would, under these conditions, be entirely consistent with our new flexible average inflation targeting framework,” Clarida told the Peterson Institute for International Economics in a virtual appearance, according to CNBC.
The weaker-than-expected jobs data came just days ahead of nonfarm payrolls data due Friday, and weighed on cyclical stocks including energy and industrials.
Energy was the worst performing sector, down more than 2% following a slip in oil prices as data showed weekly U.S. crude inventories unexpectedly increased last week.
Stockpiles increased 3.6 million barrels during the week ended July 30, confounding expectations for a draw of 3.1-million barrels.
A wave of mostly underwhelming quarterly results, meanwhile, added to pressure on stocks as Kraft Heinz and General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) slumped.
Kraft Heinz Co (NASDAQ:KHC)reported better-than-expected second-quarter results, though sales slipped year-on-year. Its share price fell 5%.
General Motors reported mixed quarterly results as earnings missed, but revenue beat expectations. The automaker raised guidance that fell short of Wall Street estimates, sending its shares 9% lower.
The jump in cases brought on by the delta variant of coronavirus has also prompted some investor caution as some companies return toward implanting restrictions from last year.
“Some companies such as Target (NYSE:TGT) are adopting a mask mandate for employees, and others including Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) are implementing vaccine requirements. NYC, meanwhile, will now require proof of vaccination for entry into restaurants, gyms and leisure events, such as movie theaters,” Stifel said in a note.
In other news, Robinhood Markets Inc (NASDAQ:HOOD) jumped 48% as that trading of its options got underway for the first time.