US stocks weighed down by lacklustre hiring data

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NEW YORK – Wall Street stocks mostly fell on Wednesday (Aug 4) following lacklustre hiring data that offset other strong economic reports, exacerbating worries that the US recovery from last year’s downturn is slowing.

Hiring by American private firms slowed sharply in July to 330,000, with dramatically lower gains in the construction and leisure and hospitality sectors, according to payroll services firm ADP.

The weak data will fuel the narrative that the US economy has reached “peak growth,” said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O’Hare.

It also offset a survey from the Institute for Supply Management that showed sector activity hitting an all-time high in July as businesses continued to fully reopen.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.9 per cent to 34,792.67.

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 0.5 per cent to 4,402.66, retreating from a record, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.1 per cent at 14,780.53.

Gregori Volokhine, president of Meeschaert Financial Services in New York, pointed to instances in recent sessions when companies have reported strong results, yet still saw their stocks fall.

“That’s a bad sign for markets,” Volokhine said. “Investors think the best days are behind us.”

Among individual companies, Robinhood Markets surged more than 50 per cent, in what US financial news site CNBC said was the latest instance of investors on the Reddit media platform banding together to dramatically move stock prices.

Kraft Heinz fell 5.1 per cent on worries that rising freight and commodity costs and an expected jump in marketing spending will drag on profit margins.

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