March 1, 2024

Wall Street Shares Slide After Weak Jobs Data

Wall Street shares fell sharply after the payroll processor ADP said that 179,000 new private sector jobs were added in April. That figure was lower than the 195,000 analysts had expected.

The ADP report is closely watched because it can provide insights into the government’s monthly jobs report for April, which comes out Friday.

Shortly after noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 128.51 points or 1 percent. The broader Standard Poor’s 500-stock index lost 14.23 points or 1 percent. The technology heavy Nasdaq fell 29.04 points, or 1 percent.

The Institute for Supply Management also said its service sector index rose at the slowest pace in eight months. That raised concerns for the health of the service industry, which employs about 90 percent of the work force.

The latest round of earnings were mixed on Thursday. The Kellogg Company, the world’s biggest cereal maker, said its net income fell 12 percent because of higher costs. The results missed analysts’ expectations and its shares dropped 0.8 percent.

Time Warner, the owner of Warner Brothers and HBO, said its first-quarter earnings fell 10 percent because of a lack of hit movies in the period. But advertising revenue rebounded, and the results surpassed the expectations of analysts. Its shares were down 2.7 percent.

AOL’s net income dropped sharply as the Internet company reported lower advertising and subscription revenue. Its shares slipped by 0.7 percent.

Bond prices rose, sending yields lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.22 percent from 3.26 percent late Tuesday.

In Europe, fears of more interest rate increases in China weighed on markets Wednesday, while the euro headed up toward 18-month highs against the dollar despite confirmation of a $116 billion bailout for Portugal.

The FTSE in London fell 1.62 percent, while the DAX in Frankfurt lost 1.69 percent. The CAC 40 in Paris was 1.31 percent lower.

After an interest rate increase by India’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China expressed its continued concerns over inflation, stoking speculation that it may raise interest rates again in the months ahead.

“Fears about further Chinese monetary policy tightening are being linked with the poorer tone after the People’s Bank of China said stabilizing prices is critical,” Jane Foley, an analyst at Rabobank International, said.

As a result, Chinese shares were the big losers Wednesday, with mainland Chinese shares posting their biggest loss in over two months. The Shanghai composite index fell 2.3 percent to 2,866.02, while the Shenzhen composite index lost 2.2 percent to 1,187.28. Shares in oil, coal and real estate industries weakened.

While jobs take center stage in the United States, Europe will focus on interest rate decisions from the European Central Bank and the Bank of England. Neither is expected to change interest rates, though the European bank is expected to indicate Thursday that it will follow April’s first interest rate increase in nearly three years with another rise in June.

That belief has bolstered the euro over the last couple of months despite ongoing debt problems, most notably in Greece, Ireland and Portugal. While the European Central Bank is poised to raise interest rates again in the coming months, the Federal Reserve has shown few signs that it is ready to lift its super-low interest rates. That’s added to the dollar’s recent weakness against the euro.

The euro was trading $1.4861 after briefly rising above the $1.49 level.

The euro gained despite figures showing a 1 percent decline in retail sales in the 17 countries that use the euro in March, and confirmation that Portugal has agreed to a bailout of 78 billion euros ($116 billion) from its partners in the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

“For the foreign exchange markets, the details of Portugal’s bailout terms are of little relevance with the focus still firmly on diverging policy between the U.S. and elsewhere,” said Derek Halpenny, European head of global currency research at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

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