NEW YORK (AP) – US stocks are mixed in confused trading on Friday after a weak employment report raised questions about the Federal Reserve’s timetable to reduce its immense support for markets.
The S&P 500 was up 0.1% after fluctuating between a 0.1% loss and a 0.3% gain in the first few minutes of trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 3 points, or less than 0.1%, to 34.751, as of 9.45 am EST, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.1% higher.
The U.S. Jobs Report is typically the most anticipated economic data every month on Wall Street, and the immediate reaction to its release has been confused. US equity futures have risen, fallen and fallen, as have Treasury yields.
The 10-year Treasury yield climbed to 1.59% from 1.57% Thursday night after initially falling to 1.56% immediately after the jobs report was released.
Much of Wall Street assumed that the job market had improved enough that the Fed soon began to cut back on its monthly bond purchases meant to keep interest rates in the long term. Investors had also asked the central bank to start raising short-term interest rates next year. The current ultra-low interest rates have been one of the main forces pushing stocks to record highs.
But Friday’s jobs report showed employers created just 194,000 jobs last month, below the 479,000 economists were expecting. Many investors still expect the Fed to stick to its timetable, but the numbers were low enough to at least raise the question of whether it could wait longer to cut its bond purchases or possibly raise short rates. term.
“The lack of jobs is not pretty – there is no way around it,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E-Trade Financial, in a statement. “And many may think that will cause the Fed to pause in terms of the reduction strategy. But the jury is out on how the market will interpret the data.”
Below the surface, the numbers don’t offer much clarity. The unemployment rate fell to 4.8% from 5.1%, and average wages rose a little faster than expected compared to August, while 610,000 jobs were lost in production and manufacturing. transport.
This last point suggests to Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Capital, that the dysfunction of global supply chains is not improving. Such supply problems have helped to spike the prices of everything from automobiles to food, with inflation rates at their highest level in more than a decade.
Rising energy prices also contributed to inflation, and benchmark US crude climbed 2% to $ 79.89 per barrel. This helped propel S&P 500 energy stocks to a gain of 2.1%, by far the largest among the 11 sectors that make up the index.
Exxon Mobil rose 2% and Pioneer Natural Resources climbed 3%.
Friday’s choppy trading continues an already volatile run since the S&P 500 hit its last record on September 2.
AP Business Writer Joe McDonald contributed.
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