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U.S. stocks fell early Thursday, extending a downbeat start to June trading amid renewed concerns over the economy and a weak outlook from market bellwether Microsoft (MSFT) that weighed on tech peers.
The S&P 500 fell 0.3% after a choppy previous trading day, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked down 30 points. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite slumped 0.6%, dragged down by lowered guidance from Microsoft that sent shares down 3% at open. So far this holiday-shortened week, all three major indexes have logged two straight days of losses after last week’s bounce.
Investors also weighed a bevy of employment data. The Labor Department’s latest weekly jobless claims report showed applications for unemployment insurance unexpectedly fell to 200,000 in a sign labor market conditions remain a bright spot in the economy amid mounting worries of a slowdown. On the other hand, job creation in the U.S. private sector dropped off sharply last month to the slowest pace of growth in the COVID-era recovery, according to ADP’s private payrolls report.
Oil prices retreated from a rally earlier this week following reports Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members may boost crude production to offset a sharp drop in Russia’s output under new sanctions by the European Union. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent crude oil futures each fell more than 3% Thursday morning.
Wall Street weighed several quarterly reports in the early trade. Pet retailer Chewy (CHWY) saw shares pop more than 12% at open after the company reported a surprise profit following Wednesday’s closing bell. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) added to a growing list of corporate names slashing forecasts over macroeconomic headwinds from supply chain disruptions, unfavorable currency movements and its exit from Russia. Shares fell roughly 8% at the start of trading.
More earnings are in store for traders through Friday from companies including Lululemon (LULU), RH (RH) and Okta (OKTA). With earnings season tailing off, investors will take their cue from economic data, with the labor market in focus.
On Wednesday, the April job openings report, also known as JOLTS, reflected a decline in the number of vacancies, a data point the Federal Reserve is likely to view positively as it works to cool the labor market. Manufacturing data from the Institute for Supply Management out Wednesday also pointed to resilience in the economy and suggested fears of downturn may be exaggerated.
The data coincided with market-moving comments from JPMorgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon that signaled a grimmer outlook for the U.S. economic picture. At a conference Wednesday, the leader of the largest bank in the U.S. said the economy is facing a “hurricane” as the Federal Reserve moves forward with its monetary tightening plans.
“Are we going to slow down from a growth perspective? Yes, absolutely,” Cornerstone Wealth Group Chief Investment Officer Cliff Hodge told Yahoo Finance Live on Wednesday, commenting on Dimon’s remarks. “Are we going to fall into a recession? Eventually, but I think it is going to take longer to play out.”
In the last session, the Federal Reserve indicated in its periodic “Beige Book” that U.S. economic activity may have cooled in some parts of the country, weighed down by inflation, supply chain snafus and labor shortages.
“Worker shortages are still keeping labor markets tight and businesses understaffed,” LPL Financial Chief Economist Jeffrey Roach said in commentary. “In some districts, firms are freezing hirings, which is consistent with the decline in April job openings reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”