Tech shares weigh on Wall St as jobs report fuels rate-hike worries

By Ankika Biswas and Sruthi Shankar (Reuters) -The Nasdaq led losses among Wall Street’s main indexes on Monday, with technology stocks ta...

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By Ankika Biswas and Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) -The Nasdaq led losses among Wall Street’s main indexes on Monday, with technology stocks taking a hit on concerns that the Federal Reserve will continue to hike interest rates after Friday’s jobs data indicated a resilient labor market.

Growth stocks such as Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and Alphahet Inc dropped around 2% each, while information technology and communication services sectors lost 0.8% and 1.0%, respectively.

These, coupled with a 2% fall in Tesla Inc on profitability concerns following the electric-vehicle maker’s latest round of price cuts in the U.S., pulled the Nasdaq down 0.7%.

Rate-sensitive real-estate stocks also shed 0.9%.

U.S. employers maintained a strong pace of hiring in March, data on Friday showed, pushing the unemployment rate down to 3.5% and raising odds of the Fed hiking rates one more time next month.

“While the Fed will raise rates by 25 basis points in May, there is a good chance that it will be the last for this tightening cycle and could end up taking longer for them to start cutting rates than investors have been anticipating,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research in New York.

Several economic indicators last week, including weak private payrolls and job openings data, initially raised hopes of a pause to the market-punishing rate hikes amid the recent banking sector turmoil.

However, the odds of a 25-basis point rate hike by the Fed in May rose to 68% after Friday’s jobs data, according to CME Group’s Fedwatch tool, from 57% last week.

Focus this week will shift to U.S. consumer and producer prices data, the Fed’s March meeting minutes and quarterly results from big U.S. banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc and Wells Fargo & Co.

Analysts expect profits of S&P 500 companies to shrink 5.2% in the first quarter, as per Refinitiv estimates, a reversal from the 1.4% growth forecast at the start of the year.

Most U.S. banks are likely to report lower quarterly earnings and face a dour outlook, with the recent regional banking crisis and a slowing economy expected to hurt profitability.

At 12:03 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 40.48 points, or 0.12%, at 33,444.81, the S&P 500 was down 25.02 points, or 0.61%, at 4,080.00, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 115.49 points, or 0.96%, at 11,972.46.

However, a near 3% rise in construction and mining equipment maker Caterpillar Inc, following three straight sessions of losses, helped the Dow Jones stave off a steeper fall.

Charles Schwab Corp gained 3.3% after the financial broker on Thursday disclosed upbeat new client assets inflow in March.

Pioneer Natural Resources Co jumped 5.7% after a report that Exxon Mobil Corp held preliminary talks with the company about a possible acquisition of the shale oil producer.

Micron Technology Inc and Western Digital Corp surged 7.9% and 8.9%, respectively, on Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s plans to cut chip production.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.07-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.16-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded one new 52-week high and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 30 new highs and 108 new lows.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Ankika Biswas in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Medha Singh; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Shounak Dasgupta)

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