By Devik Jain and Noel Randewich
(Reuters) – Wall Street stocks fell on Friday, weighed down by Tesla and other technology-related stocks after a solid jobs report torpedoed recent optimism that the Federal Reserve might let up its aggressive campaign to reign in decades-high inflation.
Data showed U.S. employers hired far more workers than expected in July, the 19th straight month of payrolls expansion, with the unemployment rate falling to a pre-pandemic low of 3.5%.
The report added to recent data painting an upbeat picture of the world’s largest economy after it contracted in the first half of the year. That deflated investors’ expectations that the Fed might let up in its series of rate hikes aimed at cooling the economy.
“This is all about the Fed. A very strong jobs report like we had puts pressure on the Fed to tighten for longer,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of 50 Park Investments. “The market is scared the Fed is going to overshoot again. If they tighten too sharply and too long, that’s going to cause a hard landing, a deep recession.”
Tesla tumbled 6% and weighed heavily on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. Facebook-owner Meta Platforms lost 2.5% and Amazon declined 1.6%.
U.S. Treasury yields climbed as odds increased of a 75-basis-point interest rate hike in September. That helped bank stocks, with JPMorgan rallying about 3%.
Of the 11 S&P 500 sector indexes, eight declined, led lower by consumer discretionary, down 1.93%, followed by a 1.13% loss in communication services.
Focus now shifts to inflation data due next week, with U.S. annual consumer prices expected to jump by 8.7% in July after a 9.1% rise in June.
Several policymakers have this week stuck to an aggressive policy tightening stance until they see strong and long-lasting evidence that inflation was trending toward the Fed’s 2% goal.
Surging inflation, the war in Ukraine, Europe’s energy crisis and COVID-19 flare-ups in China have rattled investors this year.
A largely upbeat second-quarter earnings season has helped the S&P 500 bounce back by about 13% from its mid-June lows after a rough first-half performance.
In afternoon trading, the S&P 500 was down 0.40% at 4,135.24 points.
The Nasdaq declined 0.76% to 12,623.40 points, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.01% at 32,729.03 points.
Lyft Inc surged almost 16% after the ride-hailing firm forecast an adjusted operating profit of $1 billion for 2024 after posting record quarterly earnings.
Across the U.S. stock market, declining stocks outnumbered rising ones by a 1.3-to-1 ratio.
The S&P 500 posted four new highs and 30 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 54 new highs and 36 new lows.
(Reporting by Devik Jain, Aniruddha Ghosh and Medha Singh in Bengaluru, and by Noel Randewich in Oakland, Calif.; Editing by Anil D’Silva, Aditya Soni and Cynthia Osterman)