Wall St ends down slightly; investors await Friday’s payrolls

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks ended just slightly lower after bouncing off session lows on Thursday as investors awaited Friday’s monthly jobs report and further possible clues on the outlook for interest rates.

U.S. data on initial claims for state unemployment benefits pointed to still-resilient labor market conditions, a day after a report showing U.S. private payrolls increased less than expected in September.

Friday’s monthly payrolls report could be the week’s most important economic news, however, investors remained concerned about whether the Federal Reserve will keep rates higher for longer.

Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields eased. Earlier this week, they hit their highest since 2007.

Stocks ended well off their weakest levels of the session, and strategists noted the S&P 500 was holding above its 200-day moving average, currently at around 4,206.

“It looks like we’re trying to hold here, and the reason is probably because yields have come down somewhat and these comments by Mary Daly may have also helped a little bit,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

San Francisco Fed Bank President Mary Daly said at the Economic Club of New York that with U.S. monetary policy “well into” restrictive territory and the recent rise in U.S. Treasury yields, the Fed may not need to raise rates any more.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 9.98 points, or 0.03%, to 33,119.57, the S&P 500 lost 5.56 points, or 0.13%, to 4,258.19 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 16.18 points, or 0.12%, to 13,219.83.

Among the day’s decliners, Clorox Co dropped 5.2% as the cleaning products maker said it expects to post a first-quarter loss.

Also, shares of Dell Technologies were down 1.5% after the company’s revenue forecast signaled that an AI boost may take longer to materialize.

After recent market weakness, investors are keen for third-quarter earnings reports to kick off mid-month. S&P 500 company earnings overall are expected to have risen 1.6% year-over-year for the quarter, according to LSEG IBES data.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 9.76 billion shares, compared with the 10.63 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.11-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.02-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted three new 52-week highs and 39 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 24 new highs and 330 new lows.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; additional reporting by Ankika Biswas and Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and David Gregorio)