S&P 500 opens flat on Friday, heads for losing week to begin 2022

U.S. stocks were flat on Friday at the end of a rough week for markets, which have tumbled this week after a spike in rates to begin the year, mixed economic data and concerns about Fed tightening.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 83 points, or 0.2%. The S&P 500 lost 0.07%, and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.05%.

All of the major averages are on pace for a losing week in which investors have been rotating out of growth-oriented names in favor of value stocks with the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield spiking above 1.7%. The Dow is down just 0.2% for the week. The S&P has lost 1.3% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq has fallen 3.2%.

On Friday the Labor Department reported the U.S. economy added far fewer jobs in December than expected. The nonfarm payrolls report showed an increase of 199,000 in December, though economists had expected growth of 422,000, according to Dow Jones.

While the headline number disappointed, there were some things in this jobs report that pointed to an improving economic picture and higher inflation. Average hourly earnings increased by 0.6%, above expectations. And the unemployment rate fell to 3.9%, the lowest level since Feb 2020 and well below the 4.1% expected.

That appeared to be what bond investors were focusing on as they sent yields higher again on Friday. The 10-year Treasury yield topped 1.76% on Friday, continuing its amazing 2022 run from a 2021 year-end level of 1.51%.

Tech stocks were set to lose ground again on Friday as yields rose, continuing a theme this week of investors rotating out of the sector.

In trading Friday, GameStop shares soared more than 15% following news that the company is venturing into the crypto world with investments in a marketplace for nonfungible tokens and digital currency partnerships to create games and other items.

Elsewhere, shares of Starbucks fell about 3% after both RBC and Oppenheimer downgraded the coffee giant on the notion that the stock may have peaked in the near term and will struggle to grow profits ahead.

Also, Discovery’s stock rose 3.8% after Bank of America upgraded the company, saying that it should gain as benefits with Warner Media become clearer.

U.S. weekly jobless claims totaled 207,000 for the week ended Jan. 1, the Labor Department said Thursday. The reading was higher than the expected 195,000. But the private sector added 807,000 jobs in December, ADP said Wednesday, which was significantly higher than the expected 375,000.

Stocks’ declines over the last two days follow the Wednesday release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s December meeting. The central bank is ready to dial back its economic help at a faster rate than some had anticipated.

“A shift in Fed policy often injects volatility into markets,” said Keith Lerner, chief market strategist at Truist. “Stocks have generally had positive performance during periods where the Fed is raising short-term rates because this is normally paired with a healthy economy.”

“The dip in stocks seems a bit overdone,” added UBS Global Wealth Management in a note to clients. “The normalization of Fed policy shouldn’t dent the outlook for corporate profit growth, which remains on solid footing due to strong consumer spending, rising wages, and still-easy access to capital.”

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury hit 1.75% on Thursday, sharply higher than last week’s 1.51% level. The move higher has hit growth-oriented areas of the market, since promised future profits start to look less compelling. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite is on track for its worst week since February 2021 as investors rotate out of growth and into value names.

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