NATIONAL NEWS

Stock market today: Wall Street bounces ahead of jobs report

May 4, 2023, 11:29 PM

FILE - An NYSE sign is seen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Wednesday, Jun...

FILE - An NYSE sign is seen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Wall Street climbed Friday ahead of new data on U.S. jobs after a rough week for banks that have been caught up in the Fed’s fight against inflation.

Futures for the Dow Jones industrials rose 0.5% before the bell and the S&P 500 edged 0.7% higher.

Regional banks that saw huge declines in their share price Thursday are rebounding in premarket trading. PacWest Bancorp, whose shares lost half their value on Thursday, rose close to 20% before the bell Friday. Western Alliance Bancorp rose 13% in premarket after a 38% plunge Thursday.

The financial sector is the strongest component on the S&P 500 in early trading. Still, the S&P MidCap 400 Banks Index is down 14% for the week after the collapse of First Republic Bank on Monday.

Los Angeles-based PacWest Bancorp said it’s selling assets and has been approached by potential partners and investors.

Regulators seized First Republic and sold most of it to JPMorgan Chase and shares of financial institutions slid despite assurances from government and industry officials that the banking system is sound.

The U.S. government will report April employment numbers that are expected to show a slowdown in job growth. The red-hot jobs market is one of the reasons that the fed has ratcheted up interest rates in a bid to cool the economy and inflation.

“We estimate a slowdown in net job growth and tick up in the unemployment rate,” said Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics in a report.

Traders foresee at least a brief U.S. recession this year. They expect the Fed to start cutting rates in the second half of the year to prop up economic growth, though chair Jerome Powell said this week he doesn’t see cuts coming so early.

A report Thursday showed the number of U.S. workers filing for unemployment last week accelerated a bit more than expected.

The Fed indicated Wednesday it might be finished with rate hikes for now, but the president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, on Thursday said, “we are not pausing.” The ECB announced another rate hike but by a smaller margin of one-quarter percentage point.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 index lost 0.7% as investors worried about the health of banks following three high-profile failures in the United States and one in Switzerland. The Dow dropped 0.9% and the Nasdaq fell 0.5%.

Investors want to know steps authorities might take to “limit further contagion risks,” Yeap Jun Rong of IG said in a report. “Any inaction over the weekend could translate to a more downbeat risk environment to start next week.”

Rate hikes by the Fed and other central banks in Europe and Asia have put pressure on banks by causing the market prices of bonds on their books to decline. Investors worry depositors might pull money out of lenders that are thought to be troubled, worsening their financial pressures.

On Wednesday, the Fed raised its key overnight rate to a range of 5% to 5.25% from close to zero early last year.

Helping to support stocks despite all the anxiety over banks and a possible recession has been a largely better-than-feared earnings reporting season.

Companies in the S&P 500 are still on track to report a second straight quarter of profit drops, but the results have mostly been better than expected.

At midday in Europe, the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.6%, the DAX in Frankfurt gained 0.9% and the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.6%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.5% to 3,334.50 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.5% to 20,049.31. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 rose 0.4% to 7,220.00.

India’s Sensex sank 0.8% to 61,261.70. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets declined.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose $2.15 to $70.71 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 4 cents on Thursday to $68.56. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, added $2.08 to $74.58 per barrel in London. It advanced 17 cents the previous session to $72.50.

The dollar inched up to 134.25 yen from Thursday’s 134.14 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1010 from $1.1016.

——

McDonald reported from Beijing; Ott reported from Silver Spring, Md.

National News

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Stock market today: Wall Street bounces ahead of jobs report