Wall Street tumbled on Thursday, mirroring a slump in global financial markets, as Treasury yields surged to multi-year highs on robust economic data and on from the Federal Reserve, sparking fears of accelerating inflation.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell into negative territory for the first time in six days and, along with the benchmark S&P 500, was on pace for its largest one-day drop since late June. The Nasdaq fell nearly 2 percent, dragged down by a drop in heavyweight stocks.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to a seven-year high of 3.232 percent, marking its largest daily jump since the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Data on jobless claims and factory orders were the latest in a round of strong economic reports this week, putting the focus squarely on Friday’s payrolls report for September.
Financials were one of the few bright spots on Wall Street, with the index rising 0.71 percent. Banks, which typically benefit from rising rates, gained 0.81 percent.
Thursday’s data, which showed jobless claims fell to a near 49-year low, followed comments this week from several Federal Reserve officials, including Chairman Jerome Powell, that underscored the strength of the economy.
Equities have struggled over the past year when interest rates climbed faster than investors were anticipating.
Among the biggest drags on the S&P were the so-called FANG group of stocks, which were among shares that helped propel the Nasdaq to its recent record high. Alphabet fell 2.8 percent and Netflix was down 3.6 percent.
Apple lost 1.76 percent, and Amazon fell 2.22 percent. Both companies denied a Bloomberg report their systems had been infiltrated by malicious computer chips inserted by Chinese intelligence.
Market participants will be looking closely for signs of wage growth in Friday’s jobs number, especially considering anecdotal indications of rising wages such as Amazon’s raising its minimum wage to $15 earlier this week.
Despite the pullback, U.S. stocks remain near record levels, raising some concern about valuations with the quarterly earnings reporting season about to begin.
Among gainers, Constellation Brands rose 5.38 percent after the Corona beer maker raised its full-year profit forecast and exceeded Street’s estimates for second-quarter sales and profit.
Eli Lilly rose 4.02 percent after the company’s experimental diabetes drug showed promise in a mid-stage trial.
Day’s Economic Data
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to a near 49-year low last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength, which should continue to underpin economic growth.
The labor market, which is viewed as being near or at full employment, is steadily boosting wage growth, which could help to support consumer spending as the stimulus from the Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion tax cut package fades.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 207,000 for the week ended Sept. 29, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That reversed the bulk of the increase from the prior week when claims were boosted by Hurricane Florence, which slammed North and South Carolina in mid-September.
Applications fell to 202,000 during the week ended Sept. 15, which was the lowest level since November 1969.
The Labor Department said claims for North and South Carolina continued to be affected by the storm.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 500 to 207,000 last week.
The claims data has no bearing on September’s employment report, which is scheduled for release on Friday. The unemployment rate is forecast falling one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.8 percent, an 18-year low first hit in May.
Payrolls growth could, however, surprise on the upside as data on Wednesday showed an increase in hiring by private companies in September and a jump in private sector jobs.
The Federal Reserve raised interest rates last week for the third time this year and removed the reference to monetary policy remaining “accommodative.”
The Commerce Department reported that new factory orders recorded their largest increase in nearly a year during August, but signs of weakness in business spending on equipment suggested manufacturing could be slowing.
Factory goods orders surged 2.3 percent, the largest increase since September 2017, boosted by a surge in demand for aircraft, after falling 0.5 percent in July. Orders increased 8.6 percent on a year-on-year basis in August.
Manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the U.S. economy, is being supported by robust domestic demand, but momentum is expected to gradually slow amid worker shortages, an increasingly bitter trade war between the United States and China, a strong dollar and moderating global growth.
An Institute for Supply Management survey of manufacturers published on Tuesday showed factory activity retreated from a 14-year high in September.
In August, orders for transportation equipment vaulted 13.1 percent, the largest gain since June 2017. That reflected a 69.1 percent surge in the volatile orders for civilian aircraft and parts. Orders for defense aircraft and parts soared 17.0 percent in August. Transportation orders fell 3.6 percent in July.
Orders for motor vehicles rose 1.0 percent in August after increasing 1.6 percent in July. There were increases in orders for primary metals, fabricated metal products and electronic equipment, appliances and components. But orders for machinery and computers and electronic products fell.
The Commerce Department also said August orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, which are a measure of business spending plans, fell 0.9 percent instead of declining 0.5 percent as reported last month. Orders for these so-called core capital goods rose 1.5 percent in July.
Shipments of core capital goods, which are used to calculate business equipment spending in the gross domestic product report, dropped 0.2 percent in August instead of rising 0.1 percent as reported last month.
Core capital goods shipments increased 1.2 percent in July. Business spending on equipment slowed in the second quarter after growing robustly since the first quarter of 2017.