- US stocks fell Friday after a mixed February jobs report.
- Hiring at 311,000 jobs last month outstripped expectations of 250,000.
- But wage growth slowed, tempering rate-hike expectations.
US stocks fell Friday as investors assessed the February jobs report that showed hiring was still hot in America but wage growth had slowed, curbing expectations the Federal Reserve will upsize its upcoming interest rate hike.
The Labor Department said the US economy added 311,000 jobs last month. That trounced expectations of 205,000 in a Bloomberg survey of economists. There also was a downward revision in the massive January print, to 504,00 from the initial 517,000 reading.
Wage growth in February was 0.2%, slower than expectations of 0.3% and January’s 0.5% pace. Also, the unemployment rate rose to 3.6% from 3.4%.
The 2-year Treasury yield, which is sensitive to Fed-rate expectations, fell further below 5%.
Here’s where US indexes stood at the 9:30 a.m. opening bell on Friday:
- S&P 500: 3,910.65, down 0.20%
- Dow Jones Industrial Average: 32,192.61, down 0.19% (62.25 points)
- Nasdaq Composite: 11,325.12, down 0.12%
“The jobs data provides a huge relief for investors fearing the Fed raising rates by half a percent,” Bryce Doty, senior portfolio manager at Sit Investment Associates, said in a note. “Given Fed Chair [Jerome] Powell’s fear of higher wages causing inflation, this should calm that fear.”
Powell’s congressional testimony this week spurred expectations the Fed would speed up rate increases at its March 21-22 meeting from 25 basis points at its previous meeting.
Meanwhile, the banking industry remained in focus Friday after shares of Silicon Valley Bank, a prominent lender to tech startups, plunged. The bank said higher interest rates spurred billions in losses on a $21 billion bond portfolio. CNBC reported Friday the lender was in talks to sell itself after fundraising attempts fell short.
Thursday’s selloff in bank stocks wiped out a combined $55 billion of market value in four of the largest banks in the US: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley.
Here’s what else is happening today:
- Silicon Valley Bank crisis: What you need to know about SVB Financial as its shares plunge.
- “It is possible today we found our Enron,” Michael Burry said about the Silicon Valley Bank implosion.
- Emerging markets investing pioneer Mark Mobius says most of his investments are in Taiwan after saying he can’t get his money out of China.
In commodities, bonds, and crypto:
- West Texas Intermediate crude slipped 0.3% at $75.54 per barrel. Brent crude, the international benchmark, fell 0.2% to $81.45.
- Gold rose 0.8% to $1,849.30 per ounce.
- The 10-year Treasury yield tumbled 14 basis points to 3.77%.
- Bitcoin fell 1.7% to $19,909.50.