Wall Street ends mixed after job openings hint at cooling economy

NEW YORK – Wall Street finished mixed on Dec 5 after fresh employment data bolstered bets that the US Federal Reserve will cut interest rates as soon as March.

Wall Street’s most valuable companies rose as Treasury yields dipped to multi-month lows. Nvidia and Apple rose more than 2 per cent, while Amazon.com and Tesla gained more than 1 per cent.

Most S&P 500 sector indexes ended down after data showed US job openings dropped in October to the lowest level since early 2021, indicating that the labor market was easing.

“As interest rates rise and as demand slows, companies are pulling back on job openings, which is essentially what the Fed wants,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research in New York.

“The Fed probably is done raising rates, and the only question outstanding is when they start to cut,” Stovall said.

Another report showed US services sector activity picked up in November.

The S&P 500 declined 0.06 per cent to end the session at 4,567.18 points.

The Nasdaq gained 0.31 per cent to 14,229.91 points, while Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.22 per cent to 36,124.56 points.

The small-cap Russell 2000 index fell 1.4 per cent, ending a four-day winning streak.

Volume on US exchanges was relatively heavy, with 11.9 billion shares traded, compared to an average of 10.6 billion shares over the previous 20 sessions.

Of the 11 S&P 500 sector indexes, eight declined, led lower by energy, down 1.7 per cent, followed by a 1.37 per cent loss in materials.

US stock trading this week has been uneven after the S&P 500 rebounded nearly 9 per cent in November. The index on Dec 1 touched a four-month intra-day high.

Stock market investors widely expect the Fed will keep rates unchanged at its meeting next week. Interest rate futures also suggest a 65 per cent probability of a rate cut by the Fed’s March meeting, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

On Dec 8, the more comprehensive non-farm payrolls report for November will offer greater clarity on the state of the labor market.

Global markets will be swayed by greater volatility in 2024 as the Fed cuts benchmark interest rates fewer times than futures markets are pricing in, strategists at the BlackRock Investment Institute predicted in a panel discussion.

Take-Two Interactive Software dipped 0.5 per cent after a trailer of the latest installment of its best-selling “Grand Theft Auto” videogame franchise was released.

CVS Health jumped 3.7 per cent after forecasting 2024 revenue above Wall Street estimates, as the insurer expects to benefit from its expansion into health services.

Declining stocks outnumbered rising ones within the S&P 500 by a 4.5-to-one ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 15 new highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 83 new highs and 69 new lows. REUTERS

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