Saturday, April 13, 2024

Wall Street is off to downbeat start following two weeks of gains

by BIZ Magazine

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are off to a weak start on Wall Street as traders return from a long holiday weekend. The S&P 500 was off 0.3% in the early going Tuesday. The index is coming off its second weekly gain. The Dow slipped 63 points, or 0.2%, and the Nasdaq fell 0.3%. Markets are looking ahead to a quieter week with company earnings reports winding down and just a trickle of government economic reports expected, including data on manufacturing, layoffs and trade. DocuSign, GameStop, Dave & Buster’s and Kroger are set to report their most recent quarterly financial results this week.

THIS IS AN UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Wall Street pointed modestly lower Tuesday in a shortened trading week following the Labor Day holiday.

Futures for the Dow Jones industrials were essentially flat andthe S&P 500 dipped a little more than 0.1%.

Markets are looking ahead to a quieter week with earnings season winding down and just a trickle of government economic data out this week, including updates on manufacturing, layoffs and trade.

On Friday, the S&P 500 rose 0.2%, coming off its first monthly loss since February, as U.S. employment figures suggested the jobs market may be cooling. That fueled hopes that the Federal Reserve might moderate interest rate increases to tamp down inflation.

The Labor Department reported Friday that employers added a solid 187,000 jobs in August, an increase from July’s revised gain of 157,000. Hiring moderated: From June through August, the economy added 449,000 jobs, the lowest three-month total in three years.

The report also showed the unemployment rate rose to 3.8% from 3.5%. That’s the highest level since February 2022, though still low by historical standards.

Strong hiring and consumer spending have helped stave off a recession that analysts expected at some point in 2023. But they also make the central bank’s task of taming inflation more difficult by fueling wage and price increases.

Market fears that the Fed might have to keep interest rates higher for longer — following reports showing the U.S. economy remains remarkably resilient — led the market to pull back in August.

Shares of Warner Bros Discovery Inc. are down before the opening bell after the media and entertainment conglomerate warned that the ongoing writer’s and actor’s strike may clip profits by as much as $500 million this year.

This week, DocuSign, GameStop, Dave & Buster’s and Kroger all report their most recent quarterly financial results. Corporate earnings this quarter have been nuanced, with many companies beating modest expectations while warning of slowing sales and profit in the coming quarters.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX was unchanged at midday, and the CAC 40 in Paris inched down just 0.1%. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.2%.

In Asian trading, Hong Kong’s benchmark fell 2.1%, to 18,456.91, as investors sold real estate shares to lock in gains fueled by recent government efforts to support the ailing property industry.

China Vanke lost 1.1%, while Country Garden Holdings gave up 1%. Hong Kong-based Sun Hung Kai Properties shed 2%.

Chinese services data came in weaker than expected, dulling hopes for a rebound in China’s lackluster growth. Meanwhile, a survey showed business activity in China’s services sector increased at the slowest pace in eight months.

The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.7% to 3,154.37. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.3% to 33,036.76 and India’s Sensex rose 0.1% to 65,707.99. In Seoul, the Kospi lost 0.1% to 2,580.79.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.1% to 7,314.30 after the central bank, as expected, kept its key interest rate at 4.1%. It was the third straight monthly meeting where rates were unchanged in recognition that inflation has abated somewhat.

Taiwan’s benchmark was little changed and shares in Southeast Asia declined.

In other trading Tuesday, U.S. benchmark crude lost 23 cents to $85.32 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It jumped $1.92 to $85.55 a barrel on Monday.

Brent crude, the pricing basis for international trading, sank 58 cents to $88.42 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S dollar rose to 147.41 Japanese yen from 146.48 yen late Monday. The euro slipped to $1.0731 from $1.0796.

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