Stock market today: Live updates

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during afternoon trading on March 27, 2024.

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Stocks tumbled on Thursday in a bout of volatile trading ahead of the March jobs report. A spike in oil prices and fears the Federal Reserve could hold off on interest rate cuts also dented investors’ sentiment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 530.16 points, or 1.35%, to close at 38,596.98. The 30-stock Dow suffered its worst session since March 2023, and it logged its fourth consecutive losing day. The S&P 500 dropped 1.23% to end at 5,147.21. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dipped 1.40% to close at 16,049.08.

The three major averages took a sharp downturn late in the session, falling more than 2% off their intraday highs. Between its highs and lows of the day, the Dow swung more than 860 points.

Crude oil jumped midday, which coincided with the rollover in stocks Thursday. WTI oil topped $86 a barrel to reach its highest level since October, raising concerns about energy prices helping to reaccelerate inflation.

Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari also commented Thursday afternoon that he wondered if the central bank should cut rates at all if inflation remained sticky, adding to a recent chorus of Fed speakers talking conservatively about policy. The 10-year Treasury yield rose off the lows of the session on the Kashkari’s comments. It was last trading at 4.305%. The benchmark Treasury yield had briefly touched 4.429% on Wednesday, a new high for the year.

“Investors right now are sort of taking a wait-and-see attitude,” said Sam Stovall, CFRA Research chief investment strategist. “The 10-year yield is the key driving force because of the concern of the Fed implying that they’re in no hurry to cut rates, and therefore confirming the adage that the Fed will be slower to lower interest rates.”

The market remains expensive, given that the S&P 500 is trading at a 33% premium to its long-term average, Stovall added.

“I find that to be a bit disconcerting,” he said. “I think it’s just a matter of time, before we end up digesting some of these gains.”

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Dow, 1-day

So far this week, the S&P 500 is down 2%, with three out of four days in the red. The 30-stock Dow has lost roughly 3% week to date, while the Nasdaq has dipped 2% through Thursday’s close.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday maintained that while there is still room for interest rate cuts this year, policymakers will need more proof that inflation is moving toward the central bank’s 2% guideline before rates can come down.

The key March nonfarm payrolls report is due on Friday. The consensus expectation calls for a 200,000 rise in payrolls with an unemployment rate of 3.8%. In February, U.S. job growth totaled 275,000 while the unemployment rate rose to 3.9%. A too-hot jobs report could further boost yields and keep pressure on the Fed to maintain higher rates.

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