U.S. Stocks Remain Mostly Lower After Early Pullback

After an early move to the downside, stocks are seeing continued weakness in afternoon trading on Thursday. With the downward move, the major averages have partly offset the rebound seen in the previous session.

Currently, the major averages are off their lows of the session but still in negative territory. The Nasdaq is down 64.82 points or 0.5 percent at 13,171.19, the S&P 500 is down 17.47 points or 0.4 percent at 4,246.28 and the Dow is down 70.72 points or 0.2 percent at 33,058.83.

The pullback on Wall Street comes as traders remain worried about the outlook for interest rates ahead of the release of closely watched employment data on Friday.

The Labor Department is expected to show employment increased by 170,000 jobs in September after climbing by 187,000 jobs in August, while the unemployment rate is expected to edge down to 3.7 percent from 3.8 percent.

“We think the September employment report would be too hot for Fed officials to conclude that they have delivered enough tightening, keeping the prospect of an additional rate hike later this year alive,” said Michael Pearce, Lead US Economist at Oxford Economics.

He continued, “We still expect officials to remain on the sidelines, but that is conditional on our forecast of a sharper downturn in the economy and labor market over the closing months of the year.”

Ahead of the monthly jobs report, the Labor Department released a report this morning showing a slight uptick in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended September 30th.

The report said initial jobless claims crept up to 207,000, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 205,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 210,000 from the 204,000 originally reported for the previous week.

“Eventually the surging cost of capital will support a softening of the labor market, but it doesn’t seem like that will be reflected in tomorrow’s report,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.

Sector News

Networking stocks continue to see substantial weakness on the day, with the NYSE Arca Networking Index plunging by 3.4 percent to its lowest intraday level in over a year.

Significant weakness also remains visible among airline stocks, as reflected by the 1.2 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Airline Index. The index is giving back ground after soaring by 2.7 percent on Wednesday.

Interest rate-sensitive utilities stocks have also shown a notable move to the downside, dragging the Dow Jones Utility Average down by 1.1 percent.

Retail and software stocks are also seeing some weakness on the day, while most of the other major sectors are showing more modest moves.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, most stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region ground on Thursday following recent weakness. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index surged by 1.8 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed by 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the German DAX Index dipped by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index closed just above the unchanged line and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.5 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved modestly higher over the course of the session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down 2.5 basis points at 4.710 percent.

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