U.S. stocks fell Friday after an unexpectedly strong rise in January nonfarm payrolls, while the technology sector bore the brunt of the losses following disappointing results from Amazon.com, Apple and Alphabet.
The Nasdaq and S&P 500 remained on track for weekly gains, however, surging to the upside as Treasury yields extended a pullback.
How are stocks trading?
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.36% dropped 120 points, or 0.4%, to 33,944.
- The S&P 500 SPX, -0.71% was down 44 points, or 1%, at 4,136.
- The Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.93% shed 213 points, or 1.87%, to 11,987.
On Thursday, the Dow fell 0.1%, on weakness in health care, while the S&P 500 gained 1.5%, to finish at 4,179.76, its highest close since Aug. 25. The Nasdaq Composite jumped 3.3%, for its highest finish since Sept. 12.
What’s driving markets?
The U.S. economy added 517,000 jobs in January, far exceeding economist expectations for a rise of 187,000, while the unemployment rate fell to 3.4%, its lowest since 1969. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3%, in line with expectations.
See: U.S. jobs report shows blowout 517,000 gain in employment in January
“The strong jobs report tells me more and more people have burned through their excess savings and going back to work. This is also helping to keep wage increases under control with a modest 0.3% increase,” said Bryce Doty, senior portfolio manager at Sit Fixed Income Associates.
“There is a combination of improving supply and consumer demand falling as savings evaporate. This phenomenon helps explain how the pace of inflation is slowing more quickly than expected,” he said, while arguing the Federal Reserve will “continue to misinterpret this process of a normalizing job market and want to punish the economy further.”
The Nasdaq was likely to break three straight winning sessions after heavyweight tech companies reported results that fell short of Wall Street expectations late Thursday.
Shares of Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, -5.35% fell 5.7% following the e-commerce giant reporting its worst annual loss on record after the least profitable holiday quarter since 2014.
Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, -2.16% shares slid 4.8% as it reported weaker advertising spending over the holiday quarter, along with a slight miss on revenue and earnings. And Apple Inc. AAPL, +1.84% shares were off 1% after its earnings revealed the deepest sales drop in six years.
“The tech stocks, at least the largest ones, have had a mixed quarter. In summary, Tesla, Netflix and Facebook did well, while Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google disappointed,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank.
“Is this balance enough to keep Nasdaq in a positive trend? It might not be,” Ozkardeskaya said.
Hopes that the Federal Reserve, which increased interest rates by 25 basis points this week, is nearing an end to its monetary policy tightening cycle has been helping to drive tech stocks higher in 2023. Chairman Jerome Powell also came across as more dovish than some expected at Wednesday’s news conference.
But others are worried that stocks have climbed too far too fast.
Companies in focus
- Shares of Ford Motor Co. F, -7.23% tumbled 10% after reporting a $2 billion loss in 2022 and mixed quarterly results.
- Nordstrom Inc. JWN, +21.83% share climbed 23.5% after The Wall Street Journal reported that activist investor, and GameStop chairman, Ryan Cohen has amassed a sizeable stake and is looking to shake up its board.