US stocks were mostly down, with tech stocks sinking more markedly, after another hiring report showed a slowdown in private-sector job growth and a separate print showed growth at US service providers also experienced a pullback.
The S&P 500 (^GSPC) moved down 0.25%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) added a modest 0.24%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) dipped 1.07%.
Treasury yields moved down sharply. The yield on the 10-year note slid to 3.303%. The move came after a weak ADP payrolls report on private-sector job growth.
Meanwhile, on the commodities front, gold futures (GC=F) are hovering at their highest level in more than a year — and nearing a record high — amid the signs of softening in the labor market. Crude oil (CL=F), which jumped on Monday, fell to hover around $80 a barrel.
The S&P 500 closed down 0.6% on Tuesday after new data showed fresh signs of the labor market cooling. The monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed that US employers reported 9.93 million job openings in the month of February, down from over 10.5 million in January and significantly weaker than the consensus forecast of 10.5 million.
“Since 2000 when JOLTS data [started]prior rollovers and drawdowns of similar magnitude in the number of job openings were associated with recessions,” Paul Hickey, cofounder of Bespoke Investments, wrote in a note.
On Wednesday, two new data releases pointed to further economic weakness. Private companies added 145,000 jobs in March, lower than consensus estimates of 210,000, signaling that employers are pulling back, payroll processing firm ADP reported.
“Our March payroll data is one of several signals that the economy is slowing,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist at ADP. “Employers are pulling back from a year of strong hiring and pay growth, after a three-month plateau, it is inching down.”
Meanwhile, growth at US service providers accelerated in March. The Institute for Supply Management’s services activity index fell to 51.2, lower than the consensus estimates of 54.4. New orders dropped from 62.6 to 52.2 in March, while prices receded from 65.6 to 59.5. Plus, employment continues to expand but slipped to 51.3 per month. (Readings above 50 generally indicate expansion.)
“Today’s reading may be a sign that the Fed’s hiking campaign is gaining traction against the resilient service sector, perhaps in conjunction with tightening of lending conditions associated with recent banking stresses,” the US economics team at Barclays, wrote in a note following the release .
At the same time, Walmart’s (WMT) two-day investor meeting wrapped up on Wednesday. The company said at the meeting that by 2026, approximately 65% of stores will be automated. The news came after the company dismissed hundreds of employees at online fulfillment facilities. It said it planned to further slow hiring amid sustained inflation. Shares of Walmart moved higher by 1.5%.
Elsewhere, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester said inflation remains too high and stubborn, and expects to see interest rates move above 5%, while “real fed funds rate staying in positive territory for some time.”
In another single-stock move, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) shares rose 4.5% after the healthcare giant quadrupled its offer to settle cancer lawsuits related to its baby powder. The company is now offering $8.9 billion to the 60,000 claimants.
Meanwhile, bank stocks slid on Wednesday, with the KBW Banks Index (^BKX) down nearly 0.5%. The worst performer was Western Alliance (WAL) after the firm offered a preview of its first-quarter results that did not satisfy investors. Shares plunged over 12%.
Shares of C3.ai, Inc. (AI) fell over 15% Wednesday after Kerrisdale Capital, a firm that holds a short position in AI stock, said it has sent a letter to the software maker’s auditor, alleging a series of accounting irregularities. The company denied any wrongdoing.
InflaRx NV (IFRX) shares soared after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency-use authorization to Inflarx NV’s monoclonal antibody for the treatment of hospitalized COVID patients.
Shares of FedEx (FDX) rose 1.5% Wednesday after the Memphis, Tenn.-based delivery giant announced it would consolidate its ground, express and freight operating companies into a single organization.
Elsewhere, in the crypto market, Ethereum (ETH-USD) has gained momentum over the past 24 hours as it moves closer to $2,000 threshold ahead of the blockchain’s Shanghai upgrade.
Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @daniromerotv
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