MARCH 4 — Wall Street’s main indexes were set to fall today as concerns over the intensifying war in Ukraine overshadowed data that showed an acceleration in jobs growth last month.
Equities globally were weaker and safe-havens in demand after news of a fire near Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Ukraine sparked fears of a potential disaster. The fire was later extinguished.
The Labor Department’s closely watched employment report showed jobs grew by a more than expected 678,000 last month and that the unemployment rate fell to 3.8 per cent, the lowest since February 2020.
“All in all, it is positive and gives Chair Powell the green light to go ahead with his 25 basis point cut at the next meeting in spite of the geopolitical headwinds,” said Thomas Hayes, chairman and managing member at Great Hill Capital.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said this week he would support a 25-basis-point interest rate increase at the central bank’s March 15-16 policy meeting and would be “prepared to move more aggressively” later if inflation does not abate as fast as expected.
Richly valued growth stocks have faced the brunt of the selloff so far this week, with the S&P 500 growth index down 0.8 per cent. Its value counterpart has recorded just a 0.2 per cent fall, thanks to support from soaring energy shares.
The S&P 500 energy sector has gained 6.2 per cent for the week on the back of a crude price surge sparked by powerful Western sanctions against Russia, a major crude producer.
At 8:55 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 339 points, or 1 per cent, S&P 500 e-minis were down 42.75 points, or 0.98 per cent, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 130 points, or 0.93 per cent.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq was down over 1 per cent for the week, the most among the three main indexes, while the blue-chip Dow eyed its fourth straight weekly fall.
Energy stocks and defense companies including Lockheed Martin Corp edged higher in premarket trading, while Citigroup and Apple Inc slipped 2.2 per cent and 0.8 per cent, respectively, to lead losses among the big banks and mega-cap growth names.
Gap Inc jumped 7.4 per cent after the apparel retailer forecast upbeat 2022 earnings, betting on demand for its Old Navy and Athleta clothing brands as Americans return to offices and social events.
Broadcom Inc rose 3.1 per cent after the chip company forecast second-quarter revenue above Wall Street estimates on the back of strong demand from enterprise and cloud clients. — Reuters