Stocks were lower in morning trading on Thursday as investors wait to hear from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell later in the day and ahead of the government’s monthly jobs report due out on Friday.
The S&P 500 index fell 0.6% as of 10:10 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down slightly, only 0.1%, while the Nasdaq Composite index fell 1.5%. The Nasdaq is being dragged lower by tech companies like Apple and Cisco.
Wall Street continues to look to Washington, where economic data, comments out of the Federal Reserve and President Joe Biden’s stimulus package remain key points of focus. Treasury yields went aas high as 1.50% last week as investors braced for stronger economic growth but also a possible increase in inflation.
Powell will speak starting at noon Eastern time in what has been labeled as comments on monetary policy. Investors heard from him last week when he testified in front of Congress, but Thursday’s Q&A format may be more illuminating than Powell’s calculated answers to politicians.
Investors are looking ahead to the February jobs report on Friday. Economists surveyed by FactSet expect employers created 225,000 jobs last month. The report also includes numbers for how much wages are rising across the economy, a key component of inflation.
The market also is closely watching bond yields. Shares have kept closely tied with fluctuations in bond yields recently. When yields rise quickly, as they have in recent weeks, it forces Wall Street to rethink the value of stocks. Technology stocks are most vulnerable to this reassessment after having soared during the pandemic, making them look pricier than the rest of the market.
U.S. government bond yields have rebounded after easing earlier in the week. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note slipped back to 1.45% Thursday after rising to 1.48% earlier in the day.
The Senate is moving forward with President Biden’s stimulus bill, with most of the negotiations now happening between the more moderate Democrats in the Senate and the White House.