S&P drops as strong jobs data raise rate hike fears, techs buoy Nasdaq

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BENGALURU (Sept 7): The S&P 500 and Dow Industrials dropped on Friday after strong August jobs data raised concerns about the possibility of faster interest rate hikes, but a rebound in chip stocks helped the Nasdaq trade higher.

US job growth accelerated in August and wages recorded their largest annual increase in nine years, the Labor Department said, strengthening views the economy was so far weathering an escalating trade war with China.

After the data, traders of US short-term interest-rate futures kept their bets of two more rate hikes this year, with a further hike expected in June 2019. The probability of a second 2019 rate hike increased, but was still below 50%.

The S&P financial sector was flat, with only two of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors higher.

"Not a great number for equities even though the headline employment number was strong," said Steven Englander, global head of G10 FX Research at Standard Chartered Bank, New York.

"Any number that suggests that the Fed will have to tighten out of inflation concerns, well, A: it is not priced into the equity market right now and B: for the usual sets of reasons you don't want to think of it as an equity market positive. It brings forward the risk of cycle end."

The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index was up 0.71%, helped by gains in Broadcom and Marvell Technology after their encouraging forecasts.

The broader tech index was up 0.42%, as internet stocks rose after two days of losses. Facebook, Alphabet, Twitter and Snapchat-parent Snap Inc were up between 0.10% and 1.2%.

Investors also prepared for a fresh salvo of Sino-US tariffs as a public comment period for proposed US tariffs on an additional US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports passed at midnight ET (0400 GMT). The tariffs could now go into effect at any moment, although there was no clear timetable, and Beijing has said it would retaliate.

At 10:02am ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 67.99 points, or 0.26%, at 25,927.88, the S&P 500 was down 3.10 points, or 0.11%, at 2,874.95 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 17.23 points, or 0.22%, at 7,939.96.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.06-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.03-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

A 0.29% drop in energy stocks, as oil prices slipped, led the decliners among the S&P sectors.

Broadcom was up 6.5%, the most on the S&P, after its current-quarter revenue forecast largely beat estimates on strong data center demand and expectations of a boost from a new Apple iPhone.

Marvell Technology rose 6.3% after raising its forecast for synergies around the Cavium acquisition, which, analysts said, removed risks about further growth.

Tesla slid 7.2% after the electric carmaker said its chief accounting officer resigned and Bloomberg reported Chief People Officer Gaby Toledano was also to leave.

The S&P index recorded 13 new 52-week highs and 14 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 48 new highs and 40 new lows.