US stocks end mostly down as market weighs Fed, jobs data

NEW YORK (AFP) – Wall Street stocks finished mostly lower on Friday (Aug 5) after better-than-expected US jobs data raised expectations for more aggressive Federal Reserve actions to tighten monetary supply.

The US economy added 528,000 jobs in July, more than twice the expected number, while the unemployment rate dipped to the pre-pandemic low of 3.5 per cent, Labour Department data showed.

But while strong hiring is an unmistakable indicator of economic robustness, stocks’ initial reaction to the report was decisively negative, as investors bet that the Fed would extend a run of supersized interest rate hikes to dampen inflation.

But stocks came back somewhat, lifting the Dow into positive territory by the session’s end and lessening losses on the other two indices.

“Stocks really did hold up today all things considered, given the perspective going into the report,” said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O’Hare, who added that investors may have interpreted the data as showing the economy can withstand the Fed’s actions.

The Dow Jones Industrial finished up 0.2 per cent at 32,803.47.

The broad-based S&P 500 dipped 0.2 per cent to 4,145.19, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.5 per cent to 12,657.55.

Among individual companies, Warner Brothers Discovery plunged 16.5 per cent after reporting a US$3.4 billion (S$4.7 billion) loss, much of it due to merger-related costs.

But Lyft surged 16.6 per cent, as the ride-hailing company reported better-than-expected results on a 30 per cent jump in revenues to US$990.7 million.