US stocks close mixed following lacklustre session

Following the sell-off seen in the previous session, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Wednesday. The major averages spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line. The major averages eventually ended the session mixed. While the Dow slipped 58.06 points or 0.2% to 32,798.40, the S and P 500 crept up 5.64 points or 0.1% to 3,992.01 and the Nasdaq rose 45.67 points or 0.4% to 11,576.00. The choppy trading on Wall Street reflected uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets following Tuesday’s sell-off, which reflected renewed concerns about the outlook for interest following remarks by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. Traders may also have been reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the release of the closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday. Economists currently expect employment to jump by 203,000 jobs in February after surging by 517,000 jobs in January, while the unemployment rate is expected to hold at 3.4%. The jobs data could have a significant impact on the outlook for interest rates, as the Fed has warned about labour market tightness. Ahead of the Labor Department’s report on Friday, payroll processor ADP released a report this morning showing private sector employment in the US increased by more than expected in the month of February. ADP said private sector employment jumped by 242,000 jobs in February after climbing by an upwardly revised 119,000 jobs in January. Economists had expected private sector employment to increase by 200,000 jobs compared to the addition of 106,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month. Meanwhile, the report said annual wage growth for those remaining in their jobs slowed to 7.2% in February, reflecting the slowest growth in 12 months. ADP said annual wage growth for job changers also decelerated to 14.3% in February from 14.9% in January. ‘There is a tradeoff in the labour market right now,’ said ADP chief economist Nela Richardson. ‘We’re seeing robust hiring, which is good for the economy and workers, but pay growth is still quite elevated.’ She added, ‘The modest slowdown in pay increases, on its own, is unlikely to drive down inflation rapidly in the near term.’ A separate report released by the Labor Department showed job openings in the US fell to 10.8 million in January from 11.2 million in December. Sector News Most of the major sectors ended the day showing only modest moves on the day, contributing to the lackluster performance by the broader markets. Semiconductor stocks showed a substantial move to the upside, however, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index surging by 2.7%. Computer hardware and networking stocks also turned in strong performances, contributing to the upward move by the tech-heavy Nasdaq. Housing, airline and steel stocks also moved to the upside on the day, while energy stocks moved lower along with the price of crude oil. Other Markets In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower on Wednesday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index plummeted by 2.4% and South Korea’s Kospi shed 1.3%, although Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index bucked the downtrend and rose by 0.5%. Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index dipped by 0.2%, Britain’s FTSE 100 Index inched up by 0.1% and the German DAX Index climbed by 0.5%. In the bond market, treasuries closed roughly flat after failing to sustain an early upward move. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, crept up by less than a basis point to 3.976%. Looking Ahead A report on weekly jobless claims may attract attention on Thursday, although traders activity may remain subdued ahead of Friday’s monthly jobs report.

Source: Ghana News Agency