Two reports showing “some” labor market weakness haven’t been enough today to offset worry over tomorrow’s jobs report for February.
At the close in New York, the Standard & Poor’s 500 was off by 1.85% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was lower by 1.61%. Tech stocks led the market downward with the NASDAQ Composite lower by 2.05% and the NASDAQ 100 falling 1.80%.
The small-cap Russell 2000 lost 2.81%.
Layoffs announced by US employers quintupled in February from a year earlier and were the largest at the start of any year since 2009, Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported today. There were 77,770 job cuts announced last month, up from 15,245 in February 2022, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That brought the two-month total to 180,713 jobs, the most for any January-February period since 2009, the outplacement company said Thursday. Tech companies have accounted for about a third of the announced layoffs so far this year.
And also reported today, initial claims for unemployment rose last week rose to the highest since December, driven by spikes in California and New York. Initial unemployment claims increased by 21,000 to 211,000 in the week ended March 4, the Labor Department reported. Continuing claims, which include people who have received unemployment benefits for a week or more, have risen by the most since November 2021.