Dow futures dip as strong jobs report alters Fed rate cut outlook
In a significant shift for the financial markets, Dow futures experienced a notable decline, pointing to a potential end to the S&P 500’s nine-week winning streak. This change comes in the wake of a robust U.S. jobs report for December, which exceeded economists’ expectations and fueled concerns over the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dipped approximately 0.1%, mirroring similar movements in S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures. The U.S. economy’s addition of 216,000 nonfarm payrolls last month, surpassing the forecasted 170,000, signaled a robust labor market. This surprising strength has led to a surge in Treasury yields, with the benchmark 10-year rate reaching around 4.08%.
Market anticipation of the Federal Reserve’s monetary easing has been altered by these developments. Prior to the jobs report, traders were hopeful for rate cuts starting as soon as March, with a total of six reductions expected in 2024. However, the stronger labor market data suggests that the Fed might delay these cuts, necessitating a recalibration of market expectations.
The Nasdaq Composite, S&P 500, and Dow are all poised to break their nine-week winning streaks, with the Nasdaq facing the most significant weekly loss at 3.3%. The end of 2023 saw a significant surge in the stock market, partly driven by expectations of a Fed policy shift. This surge marked the S&P 500’s longest winning streak in nearly two decades.
The cooling of large-cap tech stocks, including Apple, which faced downgrades from research firms, has also influenced market dynamics. Amy Kong from Corient wealth management commented on the high price-to-earnings ratio in the market, suggesting caution in investing in large tech stocks.
Following the release of the jobs report, stocks opened flat, reflecting uncertainty about the Fed’s timeline for rate cuts. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite showed little change, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced a slight decline.
The CME FedWatch tool indicates a shift in the likelihood of a March Fed rate cut. The odds of a quarter-point cut in the fed funds rate have decreased, while the probability of rates remaining unchanged has increased significantly. These changes reflect the market’s reaction to the latest employment data and its implications for future Fed policy.