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Wall Street ends sharply lower, Treasury yields dip ahead of US jobs report


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Wall Street ends sharply lower, Treasury yields dip ahead of US jobs report

NYSE. Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, February 17, 2023.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Investors are awaiting the US Department of Labor's February 2023 employment report

NEW YORK, USA – Wall Street slid sharply on Thursday, March 9, pulled lower by bank stocks and jitters ahead of the employment report on Friday, March 10, while Treasury yields dropped on signs that the Federal Reserve’s restrictive policy is beginning to work as intended.

All three major US stock indexes slid between 1.7% and 2.1% after lender SVB Financial Group announced a $1.75-billion share sale to shore up its balance sheet. This sparked a broad sell-off as investors prepared for the Department of Labor’s hotly anticipated February jobs data, expected before the bell on Friday.

“Investors are positioning cautiously ahead of tomorrow’s payrolls report,” said Tom Hainlin, national investment strategist at US Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis, calling it a “challenging situation.” “A strong jobs report could be perceived by investors that the economy is still strong and the Fed needs to be more aggressive.”

The dollar backed off a near three-month high, gold advanced, and benchmark US Treasury yields eased as economic data took some of the sting out of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s hawkish, two-day congressional testimony.

Data released on Thursday showed US jobless claims rose 11% last week – the largest increase in five months – while planned layoffs for February jumped fourfold, year-on-year.

Any signs of cracks in the tight labor market is good news as far as the Fed is concerned.

A clearer picture on whether the job market is softening is expected on Friday in the Department of Labor’s February employment report. Analysts expect the US economy to have added 205,000 jobs last month – a sharp deceleration from January – and see the unemployment rate holding firm at 3.4%.

At last glance, financial markets have priced in a 63% likelihood of a larger, 50-basis-point increase to the Fed funds target rate this month, according to CME’s FedWatch tool.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 543.54 points, or 1.66%, to 32,254.86, the S&P 500 lost 73.69 points, or 1.85%, at 3,918.32, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 237.65 points, or 2.05%, to 11,338.36.

European stocks ended modestly lower, dragged down by higher-for-longer interest rate worries.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.22% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 1.23%.

Emerging market stocks lost 1.10%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.91% lower, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.63%.

Treasury yields eased in the wake of the jobless claims data.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 15/32 in price to yield 3.9169%, from 3.976% late on Wednesday, March 8.

The 30-year bond last rose 3/32 to yield 3.8712%, from 3.877% late on Wednesday.

The greenback, which rose to a near three-month high during Powell’s testimony, pulled back against a basket of currencies after the jobless claims data.

The dollar index fell 0.38%, with the euro up 0.32% to $1.0578.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.89% versus the greenback at 136.14 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.1921, up 0.67% on the day.

Oil prices erased earlier gains to head lower over looming worries of softening demand in the face of a possible recession.

US crude fell 1.23% to settle at $75.72 per barrel, and Brent settled at $81.59 per barrel, down 1.29% on the day.

Gold jumped on hopes that the Fed would dial down its aggressive inflation battle.

Spot gold added 1% to $1,831.50 an ounce. –

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