Wall Street ended lower on Thursday after weekly jobless claims fell to a near 18-month low, allaying fears of a slowing economic recovery, but also stoking worries the Fed could move sooner than expected to scale back its accommodative policies.
The Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 35,000 to a seasonally adjusted 310,000 for the week ended Sept. 4, the lowest level since mid-March 2020. That suggested that job growth could be hindered by labor shortages rather than cooling demand for workers.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) each declined about 1%, both among the stocks weighing most on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.
The S&P 500 real estate and healthcare indexes each fell over 1% and were the poorest performers of 11 sectors, while financials , energy and materials .SPLRCM made modest gains.
JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) , Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), Citi Group and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) each rose, tracking a slight rise in benchmark bond yields following the claims data.
“The problem with the market these days is it’s rotating more than it’s moving. Today, because of the jobs claims report, everyone is buying cyclical stocks," said Jay Hatfield, chief executive of Infrastructure Capital Management in New York. “We see it as a rangebound market, between 4,400 and 4,600 (on the S&P 500).”
Investors have become more worried in recent sessions after a recent monthly jobs report showed a slowdown in U.S. hiring, suggesting the economic recovery may be losing steam faster than expected. Also dragging on sentiment has been uncertainty about when the U.S. Federal Reserve's will scale back massive measures enacted last year to shield the economy from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.43% to end at 34,879.38 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.46% to 4,493.28.
The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.25% to 15,248.25.
Lululemon Athletica (NASDAQ:LULU) soared 10% after providing a strong annual forecast, as demand for its yoga pants remains strong despite the easing of coronavirus restrictions.
Reports that Beijing slowed down approval for all new online video games sent shares of U.S.-listed gaming stocks Activision Blizzard Inc (NASDAQ:ATVI), Electronic Art Inc, and Take-Two (NASDAQ:TTWO) Interactive Software Inc down more than 1%.
Digital Realty (NYSE:DLR) slid 5% after the data center REIT announced a public offering of 6.25 million shares.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 9.3 billion shares, compared with the 9.1 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.03-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.12-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 29 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 67 new highs and 38 new lows.