VOL. 41 | NO. 40 | Friday, October 06, 2017
Stocks fade from records; S&P 500 breaks winning streak
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks faded a bit from their record highs on Friday after telecom and energy stocks sank. The loss for the Standard & Poor's 500 index was small, but it was the first in nearly two weeks.
Much of the day's action was centered on the government's jobs report, which is usually the most anticipated economic data of each month, but it was a muddled one.
Economists cautioned not to read too much into the hiring numbers, which were far weaker than expected, because they were distorted by hurricanes that damaged businesses from Texas to Florida. Investors focused instead on a stronger-than-expected rise in workers' wages, which helped to push Treasury yields higher.
The S&P 500 fell 2.74 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,549.33. The loss meant the end of the longest winning streak for the index in four years. Roughly nine stocks fell for every five that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.
The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 1.72, or less than 0.1 percent, to 22,773.67. The Nasdaq composite added 4.82, or 0.1 percent, to 6,590.18. All three indexes had closed at records on Thursday.
The government's jobs report showed that employers cut more jobs last month than they added, the first time that's happened in seven years. It's a sharp turnaround from earlier this year, when the strengthening job market was encouraging investors to push stocks higher and higher.
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma meant the closure of thousands of businesses, and drops in employment at restaurants and bars were a big driver of last month's decline.
Many investors saw September's job losses as an aberration. Other economic data have been more encouraging, including strong reports on the nation's manufacturing and services sectors earlier this week.
Friday's jobs report also contained signs of strength. Average hourly wages jumped 2.9 percent in September from a year earlier, more than economists expected. Some of that may be due to how many lower-wage jobs were lost following the hurricanes, but the government also revised up its figure for wage growth in August.
"The previous month's revision, that probably has the most information" of all the data points in the government's jobs report, said Jon Adams, senior investment strategist at BMO Global Asset Management. "From the Fed's perspective, this doesn't change anything in terms of overall policy, but it makes them a little more worried about inflation."
If rising wage growth feeds into higher prices across the economy, it makes the Fed that much more likely to keep raising rates from their record lows. As a result, investors made moves Friday in anticipation of a rate increase in December.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury jumped as high as 2.39 percent shortly after the release of the jobs report, up from 2.35 percent late Thursday. The gains faded later in the day, which traders said may have been due to worries about tensions with North Korea. A Russian lawmaker said that North Korea is preparing to test-fire a long-range missile soon.
By Friday evening, the 10-year yield sat at 2.36 percent. The two-year Treasury yield climbed to 1.52 percent from 1.49 percent, and the 30-year yield rose to 2.91 percent from 2.89 percent.
When bonds pay higher yields, it makes them more attractive to investors looking for income and undercuts demand for stocks that pay relatively big dividends.
Telecom stocks in the S&P 500 fell 2 percent, the largest drop among the 11 sectors that make up the index.
Energy stocks were also among the market's weakest after the price of benchmark U.S. crude sank $1.50, or 3 percent, to settle at $49.29 per barrel. It's the fourth drop for oil in the last five days. Brent crude, the international standard, lost $1.38, or 2.4 percent, to $55.62 per barrel.
Costco Wholesale fell the most in the S&P 500 despite reporting stronger earnings for the latest quarter than expected. Analysts pointed to a slight drop in its membership renewal rates, among other factors. Costco lost $9.98, or 6 percent, to $157.09.
In overseas markets, the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.2 percent, France's CAC 40 fell 0.4 percent and Germany's DAX dipped 0.1 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.3 percent, and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.3 percent.
In the currency market, the dollar slipped to 112.71 Japanese yen from 112.85 yen late Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1735 from $1.1708, and the British pound fell to $1.3065 from $1.3116.
In the commodities markets, natural gas fell 6 cents to settle at $2.86 per 1,000 cubic feet, wholesale gasoline lost 5 cents to $1.56 per gallon and heating oil fell 4 cents to $1.74.
Gold rose $1.70 to settle at $1,274.90 per ounce, silver gained 15 cents to $16.79 per ounce and copper fell 2 cents to $3.03 per pound.