STORY: U.S. stocks closed lower for a fourth straight session on Thursday as economic data did little to alter expectations the Federal Reserve would continue raising interest rates for longer than previously thought after Fed Chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday that it was premature to consider a pause.
The Dow fell less than half a percent. The S&P 500 dropped a full percent, while the Nasdaq lost about a percent and three quarters.
Weekly unemployment claims unexpectedly fell, suggesting the U.S. labor market was still strong.
But investors will pay closer attention to the October jobs report due on Friday for any signs the Fed's rate hikes are beginning to have an impact.
Liz Miller, president of Summit Place Financial Advisors, said they may still have to wait.
"The jobs reports have become so unpredictable. The expectation is for 200,000 new jobs. And I'm just reporting a meaningless consensus as we've seen month after month. Back to Federal Reserve Chairman Powell. The Fed is focused on trying to weaken the jobs market, but I think the jobs market is being driven by so much more than just this idea of demand inflation, that it's difficult to look at that. And of course, we know all of this takes place with the delay. And what I mean by that is we've been through now months of incredible increases in interest rates. And you really need to give it three more months until you see some of those big hikes from the summer play through the economy. We've certainly heard during earnings season this fall a number of companies talking about expected layoffs, expected cutbacks. But we won't see those in the numbers now probably for another month or two months. So, I think that the timing is difficult, and I think tomorrow has the potential to be as surprising as the most recent reports we've had on jobs each month.”
Megacap growth companies including Apple and Alphabet pulled down tech and telecom stocks - the worst-performing sectors of Thursday's session.
Qualcomm and Roku also lost ground after their holiday quarter outlooks fell below Wall Street expectations.
Losses were curbed on the Dow, though, thanks to gains in industrials including Boeing and heavy equipment maker Caterpillar.