Stocks slip, 10-year Treasury yield falls as rate cut timing weighed

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) -A gauge of global equities slipped on Wednesday and was poised for a third straight decline, while longer-dated U.S. Treasury yields fell after economic data kept intact expectations the Federal Reserve has leeway to cut rates next year.

U.S. private payrolls rose by 103,000 jobs last month, the ADP National Employment Report showed on Wednesday, below the 130,000 estimate of economists polled by Reuters. Data for October was revised lower to show 106,000 jobs added instead of 113,000 as previously reported.

Other data showed U.S. worker productivity grew faster than initially thought in the third quarter, putting more downward pressure on labor costs, which could contribute to lower inflation should the trend remain intact.

“Right now, it’s consistent with the overall trajectory of softening job growth, and so far that’s not problematic because the economy is still humming along,” said Bill Merz, head of capital markets research at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.

“What would be concerning is if that trend persists for too long, and it turns into large job losses.”

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 dipped, giving up earlier gains, as a steep drop in energy stocks outweighed gains in utilities and industrials stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 70.13 points, or 0.19% , to 36,054.43, the S&P 500 lost 17.84 points, or 0.39 %, to 4,549.34 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 83.20 points, or 0.58 %, to 14,146.71.

Softening economic data and recent comments from Federal Reserve officials, including Chair Jerome Powell, have heightened expectations that the U.S. central bank has ended its interest rate hiking cycle and will begin to cut rates as soon as March.

Expectations for a U.S. rate cut of at least 25 basis points (bps) in March are about 60%, according to CME’s FedWatch Tool, up from slightly more than 50% a week ago. The Fed’s next policy meeting is on Dec. 12-13.

In addition to the Fed, expectations have risen for rate cuts in other global economies, with markets currently pricing in a 70% chance of cut by the European Central Bank (ECB) in March.

However, the Bank of Canada on Wednesday held its key overnight rate at 5% and left the door open to another hike, saying it was still concerned about inflation while acknowledging an economic slowdown and a general easing of prices.

The ADP report was the latest in a string of data this week on the U.S. labor market, culminating on Friday with the government’s payrolls report. The ADP, however, is historically not a very reliable predictor of the government’s data. On Tuesday, a report on job openings fell to its lowest level since early 2021, while a separate measure of activity showed the U.S. services sector picked up, although new orders were flat.

The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note fell 5 basis points to 4.119% after hitting a fresh three-month low of 4.106%, suggesting the bond market is anticipating a weak jobs report on Friday.

The two-year U.S. Treasury yield, which typically moves in step with interest rate expectations, was up 3 basis point to 4.603%.

European stocks closed higher as investors largely think interest rates have peaked, with Germany’s benchmark DAX index hitting a fresh record. The pan-European STOXX 600 index gained 0.52% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe lost 0.10% and was on pace for its longest streak of declines since late October.

The dollar index was up 0.21% at 104.17 after earlier hitting a two-week high of 104.23 while the euro was down 0.31% to $1.0762.

Brent crude futures tumbled 3.76% to settle at $74.30 a barrel, while U.S. crude settled at $69.38, down 4.07% on the day after falling to their lowest level since June, as a larger-than-expected rise in U.S. gasoline inventories exacerbated worries about fuel demand.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; additional reporting by Noel Randewich in San Francisco, Amruta Khandekar and Shristi Achar A in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski, Diane Craft and Lisa Shumaker)