Wall Street stocks close slightly lower; jobs data strong but rates still high

By Chibuike Oguh

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Wall Street stocks ended slightly lower on Friday in choppy trading after stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs data pointed to a robust economy but prompted worries the Federal Reserve may wait longer to cut interest rates than many investors had hoped.

The U.S. economy generated about 272,000 jobs in May, far more than the 185,000 analysts had forecast, according to a Labor Department report. The unemployment rate inched up to 4%.

The benchmark S&P 500 slipped immediately after the report while U.S Treasury yields climbed as traders slashed bets on a September rate reduction. The index recovered and briefly hit a fresh intraday record high as investors noted the data pointed to underlying economic health.

It finished slightly lower, with the utilities, materials, and communication services stocks among the biggest drag. Financials and technology advanced ahead of others.

For the week, the S&P 500 gained 1.32%, Nasdaq rose 2.38%, and the Dow added 0.29%.

“This tells you there’s certainly not going to a cut in the short term, and with the bond yields going back up it’s putting a lot of pressure on the risk-on trade, which is probably small caps,” said Sandy Villere, portfolio manager at Villere & Co in New Orleans.

“It’s just a function of interest rates and maybe a little higher for longer, and people have to recalibrate for that type of environment,” he added.

Traders now see a 56% chance of a September rate reduction, according to the CME’s FedWatch tool. Investors will eye U.S. inflation data next week and the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting, which ends on June 12.

“No one expects the Fed to cut (rates next week), but will they open the door for a cut as soon as September is the big question on everyone’s mind,” said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at the Carson Group, adding he still sees a September reduction on the table.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 87.18 points, or 0.22%, to 38,798.99, the S&P 500 lost 5.97 points, or 0.11%, to 5,346.99 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 39.99 points, or 0.23%, to 17,133.13.

GameStop slumped 39% in volatile trading just as stock influencer “Roaring Kitty” kicked off his first livestream in three years. The gaming retailer had announced a potential stock offering and a drop in quarterly sales.

Other so-called meme stocks, including AMC Entertainment and Koss Corp, fell 15.1% and 17.4%, respectively.

Nvidia slipped, on track to extend the previous session’s losses, with its valuation again dipping below the $3 trillion mark.

Lyft shares rose 0.6%, following a forecast of 15% annual growth in its gross bookings through 2027 after markets closed on Thursday.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 2.72-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. On the Nasdaq, 1,177 stocks rose and 3,064 fell as declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 2.6-to-1 ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 17 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows while the Nasdaq Composite recorded 34 new highs and 149 new lows.

Total volume of shares traded across U.S. exchanges was about 10.75 billion, compared with the 12.7 billion average over

the last 20 trading days.

(Reporting by Chibuike Oguh in New York; additional reporting by Lisa Mattackal and Johann M Cherian in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai and David Gregorio)

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