The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell Wednesday as Wall Street waded through new economic data and awaited an afternoon speech on the economy from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.
The 30-stock index lost 186 points, or 0.6%. The S&P 500 shed 0.2%, while the Nasdaq Composite added 0.2%.
Investors were hit with conflicting economic reports Wednesday morning. Payroll processing firm ADP reported fewer job listings in October than expected, pointing to a contracting workforce. But while the Labor Department also said job openings fell in the month, it said there were still more available than there were workers.
Another indicator of the tightening economy came when October data from the National Association of Retailers showed a fifth consecutive month of declines in pending home sales. But that was tempered with the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ upward revision on third-quarter gross domestic product, which indicated the economy was stronger than previously thought.
“The data was somewhat mixed,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda. “But it does show there’s a lot of resilience in this economy. And it still is highlighting a labor market that is weakening, but is still in relatively good shape. I think that we’re not going to get any answers on what will policy be like at the end of next year based on these reports.”
Investors are waiting for Powell’s speech at the Brookings Institution this afternoon that may give further insight into the central bank’s thinking on future interest rate increases.
The Fed is slated to meet later this month and is largely expected to deliver a smaller 0.5 percentage point rate hike after four consecutive 0.75 percentage point increases to tame high inflation. Any signal of a pivot on future rate hikes would likely send markets higher.
“All eyes will be on Chairman Powell’s speech today, but we don’t believe he will break any new ground,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance. “He wants the stock market lower and he’s willing to endure a recession in order to get inflation back under control.”