Dow falls 170 points, Nasdaq limits losses ahead of jobs data

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U.S. stocks bounced around in a choppy session ending the day lower as traders digested the latest jobs data and continued to weigh the prospect of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates faster than expected to cool inflation. 

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, in a speech, said the first rate hike could be in March. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost over 170 points or 0.5%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.10% and 0.13%, respectively. Both curbed the majority of losses during the session. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 36236.47 -170.64 -0.47%
SP500 S&P 500 4696.05 -4.53 -0.10%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 15080.864828 -19.31 -0.13%

Humana fell after cutting its outlook for Medicare enrollment, United Health fell in sympathy. Travelers and Disney posted gains. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
HUM HUMANA INC. 367.53 -88.16 -19.35%
UNH UNITEDHEALTH GROUP INC. 469.54 -20.32 -4.15%
TRV THE TRAVELERS COS. INC. 162.33 +2.56 +1.60%
DIS THE WALT DISNEY CO. 156.87 +1.57 +1.01%

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Oil briefly hit the $80 per barrel level giving ExxonMobil and Chevron a boost. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
USO UNITED STATES OIL FUND L.P. 56.89 +1.46 +2.63%
XOM EXXON MOBIL CORP. 68.32 +1.57 +2.35%
CVX CHEVRON CORP. 123.26 +1.00 +0.82%

FED EYES FASTER INTEREST RATE LIFTOFF, BALANCE SHEET REDUCTION AS INFLATION SOARS

On the economic calendar, weekly jobless claims rose by 207,000, above the estimate of 195,000 and slightly higher than the prior week’s 198,000. 

On Friday U.S. employers are expected to have created 400,000 new nonfarm jobs last month, almost double November’s much weaker-than-expected tally of 210,000. The unemployment rate is anticipated to fall to 4.1%.  

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for setting rates on mortgages and other loans, rose to 1.76%. 

PRIVATE-SECTOR JOB GROWTH BLOWS PAST EXPECTATIONS IN DECEMBER, ADP SAYS

In stocks, Facebook bucked ongoing selling among large-cap tech players including Google, Amazon and Apple. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
FB META PLATFORMS INC. 332.46 +8.29 +2.56%
AMZN AMAZON.COM INC. 3,265.08 -22.06 -0.67%
AAPL APPLE INC. 172.00 -2.92 -1.67%
GOOGL ALPHABET INC. 2,754.95 -0.55 -0.02%

Bed Bath & Beyond continues to struggle with its turnaround. Comp sales dropped 7% in the latest quarter. Still, the shares gained. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BBBY BED BATH & BEYOND INC. 14.43 +1.06 +7.97%

Elsewhere in retail, Walgreen’s boosted its annual forecast as it benefits from COVID-19 vaccines and at-home testing kit sales. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
WBA WALGREENS BOOTS ALLIANCE INC. 52.44 -1.56 -2.89%
CVS CVS HEALTH CORP. 102.58 -3.25 -3.07%

Ford and GM shares recovered losses from the previous session. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
GM GENERAL MOTORS CO. 62.88 +0.16 +0.26%
F FORD MOTOR CO. 24.45 +0.80 +3.36%

In cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin slipped hit the $42K level before inching up. 

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Ken Martin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.