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Stocks are closing mostly lower Friday after new data on the hot U.S. jobs market suggested the Fed won’t soon rein in its aggressive rate hikes. The S&P 500 is down 0.2% and the Nasdaq lost 0.5%, while the Dow Jones industrials notched a small gain. Employers unexpectedly accelerated their hiring last month and added hundreds of thousands more jobs than forecast. While the data suggests the economy may not be in a recession, it also undercuts investor hopes that inflation may be close to peaking. Treasury yields jumped. Warner Bros. Discovery had its third worst day ever after recording weak second quarter results.
U.S. employers added an astonishing 528,000 jobs last month despite flashing warning signs of an economic downturn, easing fears of a recession and handing President Joe Biden some good news heading into the midterm elections. Unemployment dropped another notch, from 3.6% to 3.5%, matching the more than 50-year low reached just before the pandemic took hold. The economy has now recovered all 22 million jobs lost in March and April 2020 when COVID-19 slammed the U.S. The red-hot numbers were reported Friday by the Labor Department. Economists had expected only 250,000 new jobs last month, in a drop-off from June’s revised 398,000. Instead, July proved to be the best month since February.
The Bank of England has projected that the United Kingdom’s economy will enter a recession at the end of the year. To tame accelerating inflation driven by the fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine, the bank hiked interest rates Thursday by the largest amount in more than 27 years. The bank says inflation will accelerate to over 13% in the final three months of the year and remain “very elevated” for much of 2023. The bank’s forecasters say inflation will hit its highest point for more than 42 years amid the doubling of wholesale natural gas prices tied to the war. Central banks worldwide are struggling to control surging inflation without tipping economies into recession.
Stocks are closing slightly lower on Wall Street Monday as investors began another busy week of earnings and economic reports. The S&P 500 fell 0.3%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq also closed lower. U.S. crude oil prices dropped, weighing heavily on energy companies. Retailers and consumer product makers made solid gains. Boeing jumped after it cleared a key hurdle with federal regulators to resume deliveries of its large 787 airliner. August’s subdued opening follows a solid rally for stocks in July that marked the best month for the the benchmark S&P 500 since November 2020.
Inflation in the European countries using the euro currency shot up to another record in July, pushed by higher energy prices driven partly by the war in Ukraine. But the economy still managed better-than-expected, if meager, growth in the second quarter. The European Union statistics agency said Friday that annual inflation in the eurozone’s 19 countries rose to 8.9% in July, up from 8.6% in June. Inflation has been running at its highest level since record-keeping for the euro began in 1997. The economy grew from April through June, expanding by 0.7% compared with the previous quarter. Economists expect that to be the last glimmer of good news and the region to tip into recession later this year.
Asian shares are mostly higher following a broad rally on Wall Street, but Hong Kong's benchmark sank more than 2%. Investors have grown more convinced that the Federal Reserve may temper its aggressive interest rate hikes aimed at taming inflation after data showed the U.S. economy contracted in the last quarter. But investors are cautiously eyeing regional tensions over China’s stance on Taiwan after President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping spoke for more than two hours on Thursday. Japan's factory output in June jumped 8.9% from the previous month. The Commerce Department reported the U.S. economy contracted at a 0.9% annual pace in April-June following a 1.6% year-on-year drop in the first quarter.
The U.S. economy shrank from April through June for a second straight quarter, contracting at a 0.9% annual pace and raising fears that the nation may be approaching a recession. The decline in the gross domestic product — the broadest gauge of the economy — followed a 1.6% annual drop from January through March. Consecutive quarters of falling GDP constitute one informal, though not definitive, indicator of a recession. The report comes at a critical time. Consumers and businesses have been struggling under the weight of punishing inflation and higher borrowing costs. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by a sizable three-quarters of a point for a second straight time.
When General Motors went through the biggest industrial bankruptcy proceedings in history, 20,000 retirees from GM's Delphi Corp. subsidiary saw their retirement savings slashed. They fought unsuccessfully in court for 13 years to get that money back. Now, they're focused on congressional legislation to restore what they lost. Lawmakers from the left and right support the bill, which passed the House on Wednesday. But there's also some resistance to spending tax dollars to bail out pension funds. Supporters are hopeful for swift Senate action. And President Joe Biden's White House has expressed support for the measure.
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its benchmark interest rate by a hefty three-quarters of a point for a second straight time in its most aggressive drive in more than three decades to tame high inflation. The Fed’s move will raise its key rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, to a range of 2.25% to 2.5%, its highest level since 2018. Speaking at a news conference, Chair Jerome Powell gave mixed signals about the Fed’s next moves. He stressed that the central bank remains committed to defeating chronically high inflation, while at the same time holding out hope that it may soon shift to smaller rate hikes.
The U.S. economy is caught in an awkward, painful place. A confusing one, too. Growth appears to be sputtering, home sales are tumbling and economists warn of a potential recession ahead. But consumers keep spending, businesses keep posting profits and the economy keeps adding hundreds of thousands of jobs each month. In the midst of it all, prices have accelerated to four-decade highs, and the Federal Reserve is desperately trying to douse the inflationary flames with higher interest rates. That’s making borrowing more expensive for households and businesses. The Fed hopes to pull off the triple axel of central banking: Slow the economy just enough to curb inflation without causing a recession.