In this Jan. 27, 2021 file photo, pedestrians pass the New York Stock Exchange, in New York. Stocks are off to a sluggish start on Wall Street Tuesday, Sept. 7, as traders return from the Labor Day weekend in the U.S. Industrial and health care stocks were the biggest drag on the market in the early going. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
Stocks were lower in afternoon trading Tuesday as traders return from the Labor Day weekend and face a relatively light week of economic data.
The S&P 500 lost 0.3% as of 2:32 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 228 points, or 0.6%, to 35,141 and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 0.1%, within striking distance of an all-time high.
Industrial and health care stocks were the biggest drag on the market and roughly 75% of companies in the benchmark S&P 500 fell. Several big communications companies rose and helped prop up the sector. Netflix rose 3.2%.
Traders are back from their summer holidays, and volatility is expected to pick up in the coming days and weeks. Stocks churned higher throughout the summer, helped by stronger-than-expected earnings from big companies as well as guidance from the Federal Reserve that the central bank plans to keep interest rates low.
The market had only a mild negative reaction to the August jobs report, which showed employers hired fewer workers than expected. The report came out Friday, just ahead of the Monday expiration of extended unemployment benefits, which had been in place since March 2020, when the pandemic started.
“We’re still kind of digesting Friday's weak job number and the potential impact that might have with the economy,” said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist for LPL Financial. “The economy has been showing signs of weakening and we're seeing a clear impact from the delta variant seeping into economic data.”
That same weakness could also have an upside for investors who are hoping the Federal Reserve maintains its support for low interest rates while the jobs market and broader economy continue recovering.
“You have to wonder whether we are in a bad news is good news scenario regarding the Fed,” Detrick said.
A tick up in bond yields was helping out bank stocks. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.36% from 1.32% on Friday. Bank of America rose 1.5%.
Paint and coatings maker PPG Industries fell 3.6% after warning investors that supply chain problems and higher costs will hurt third-quarter sales. The announcement weighed on some of the company's peers. Sherwin-Williams fell 1.4%.
Energy prices were down broadly. U.S. crude oil fell 1.4% while natural gas prices fell 3.1%.
Investors have a few economic reports on tap for the week.
On Wednesday, the Labor Department will report job openings for July. The jobs market is still struggling to recover from the pandemic and employers have been finding it difficult to fill openings amid lingering health fears and the resurgent virus could make it even more difficult.
On Friday, investors will get another update on inflation when the Labor Department reports on inflation at the wholesale level before costs are passed on to consumers.
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