Market Wrap: Stocks Drop as Fall Rate Hike Gains Footing

Financial Markets Wall Street
Richard Drew/AP
By Noel Randewich

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks ended lower Friday after solid job growth data for July pried the door open a little wider for a potential interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve in September.

Wall Street took the latest signs of an improving economy as a fresh reason to sell shares in a market that has remained range-bound for much of 2015 in anticipation of the Fed's first rate hike in nearly 10 years.

U.S. nonfarm payrolls increased 215,000 last month, less than the 223,000 forecast by economists, but the unemployment rate held at a seven-year low of 5.3 percent.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-It's enough to keep the Fed on track to raise rates in September but it's not enough to end the debate.%U.S. overnight indexed swap rates rose after the jobs data, suggesting traders were pricing a 52 percent chance that rates would be raised in September rather than December, up from 47 percent prior to the data, according to John Briggs, head of cross-asset strategy at RBS Securities in Stamford, Connecticut.

"It's enough to keep the Fed on track to raise rates in September but it's not enough to end the debate," said Briggs.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 0.3 percent to end at 17,373.38. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) lost 0.3 percent to 2,077.57 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) finished 0.3 percent lower at 5,043.54.

For the week, the Dow lost 1.8 percent, the Nasdaq slipped 1.7 percent and the S&P edged down 1.2 percent. After hitting a record high in May, the S&P 500 is now up less than 1 percent for the year.

On Friday, seven of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, with the energy index's 1.9 percent fall leading the decliners as oil prices headed for a sixth week of losses.

Exxon Mobil's (XOM) 1.6 percent drop weighed the most on the S&P 500.

2Q Earnings Wrapping Up

With second-quarter earnings season almost over, S&P 500 companies' aggregate profits are estimated to have increased 1.6 percent, while revenues are projected to have fallen 3.4 percent, according to Thomson Reuters (TRI) data.

With many U.S. companies boosting their earnings per share by cutting costs and buying back stock instead of by growing their businesses, stock valuations remain a concern. The S&P 500 trades at 16.6 times expected earnings, which is pricier than the 10-year median of 14.7.

Cablevision Systems (CVC) shares fell 2.7 percent after the company managed to stem video subscriber losses, but at the cost of margins.

Nvidia (NVDA) shares surged 12.4 percent a day after the chipmaker reported a surprise rise in quarterly revenue, helped by strong demand for its graphic chips for high-end video game computers.

Decliners outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,800 to 1,262. On the Nasdaq, 1,701 issues fell and 1,088 advanced. The S&P 500 index chalked up four new 52-week highs and 20 new lows; the Nasdaq composite saw 27 new highs and 161 new lows. About 6.7 billion shares changed hands on all U.S. exchanges, under an average 7 billion in the past five sessions, according to BATS Global Markets data.

-Tanya Agrawal contributed reporting.

What to watch Monday:

Earnings Season

These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:
  • AES Corp. (AES)
  • Hertz Global Holdings (HTZ)
  • Kraft Heinz Co. (KHC)
  • Sysco (SYY)
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