Stocks fell on Friday as traders evaluated September’s jobs report, which showed the unemployment rate continuing to decline and sparked an increase in interest rates.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 670 points, or 2.3%. The S&P 500 lost 2.9%, while the Nasdaq Composite slid 3.8%.
Friday’s jobs numbers showed the U.S. economy added 263,000 jobs in September, slightly below a Dow Jones estimate of 275,000. However, the unemployment rate came in at 3.5%, down from the 3.7% in the previous month in a sign that the jobs picture continues to strengthen even as the Federal Reserve tries to slow the economy with rate hikes to stem inflation.
“While the data was about as expected, the drop in the unemployment rate is seemingly what the markets are obsessed with because of what it means for the Fed,” said Bleakley Financial chief investment officer Peter Boockvar. “When combined with the low level of initial jobless claims, the pace of firing’s remains muted and this of course gets the Fed all fired up about continuing with its aggressive rate hikes.”
The falling unemployment rate sparked a jump in rates, in turn weighing on futures. The 2-year year Treasury yield rose 5 basis points to 4.302%. (1 basis point equals 0.01%.)
Friday’s losses trimmed the gains for what started out as a big comeback week for stocks. The major averages are still on pace to end the week higher but have given back most of the gains from the rally that kicked off the week. The Dow is heading to a 1.8% weekly gain, while the S&P is on track to end the week higher by 1.4%. The Nasdaq is on pace to rise 0.7%.
“The conclusion many we have spoken with have reached is that not only will the Fed not help markets, but in their dogged pursuit of price stability keep going until something breaks in the capital markets,” said Christopher Harvey, an equity analyst at Wells Fargo Securities. “What appears to be their increasingly singular focus — price stability — will likely help catalyze the dislocation.”