WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Stocks showed a notable move to the downside in early trading on Monday, giving back ground after turning in a strong performance last Friday. The major averages subsequently climbed well off their worst levels but still ended the day in negative territory.
The Nasdaq slid 119.54 points or 0.8 percent to 14,185.49 and the S&P 500 fell 24.85 points or 0.5 percent to 4,569.78, while the narrower Dow edged down 41.06 points or 0.1 percent to 36,204.44 after falling more than 200 points early in the session.
The early pullback on Wall Street partly reflected profit taking, with some traders looking to cash in on the recent strength in the markets.
The Dow and the S&P 500 ended last Friday's trading at their best closing levels since early 2022, while the Nasdaq reached a four-month closing high.
Stocks have recently benefited from optimism about the outlook for interest rates, as the Federal Reserve is widely expected to leave rates unchanged until cutting rates as early as March 2024.
A rebound by treasury yields may also have contributed to the weakness on Wall Street, as the yield on the benchmark ten-year note bounced off its lowest levels in three months.
Selling pressure waned over the course of the session, however, as traders looked ahead to the release of the Labor Department's closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.
Economists currently expect employment to increase by 180,000 jobs in November after rising by 150,000 jobs in October, while the unemployment rate is expected to hold at 3.9 percent.
'Another weaker report, especially one paired with 0.2% monthly wage growth, could further fuel the belief that not only is the tightening cycle over but rate cuts may not be far away,' said Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA.
Reports on service sector activity, private sector jobs, weekly jobless claims and consumer sentiment may also attract attention in the coming days.
The Commerce Department released a report this morning showing factory orders pulled back by much more than expected in the month of October.
The report said factory orders plunged by 3.6 percent in October after jumping by a downwardly revised 2.3 percent in September.
Economists had expected factory orders to tumble by 2.6 percent compared to the 2.8 percent surge originally reported for the previous month.
Gold stocks showed a substantial move to the downside on the day, with the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index plunging by 2.5 percent after ending last Friday's trading at a four-month closing high.
The sell-off by gold stocks came as the price of gold for February delivery plunged $47.50 to $2,042.20 an ounce after reaching a high above $2,100 an ounce earlier in the day.
Software, computer hardware and semiconductor stocks also saw considerable weakness, contributing to the pullback by the tech-heavy Nasdaq.
Meanwhile, significant strength was visible among airline stocks, as reflected by the 10.8 percent spike by the NYSE Arca Airline Index. The index reached its best closing level in almost four months.
Shares of Hawaiian Holdings (HA) skyrocketed after the parent of Hawaiian Airlines agreed to be acquired by Alaska Air Group (ALK) for $18.00 per share in cash.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Monday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.6 percent, while South Korea's Kospi climbed by 0.4 percent.
The major European markets also ended the day narrowly mixed. While the German DAX Index crept up by less than 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index both edged down by 0.2 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries gave back ground after moving sharply higher in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, climbed 6.2 basis points to 4.288 percent.
A report on service sector activity may attract attention on Tuesday, with the pace of growth in the sector expected to show a slight acceleration in the month of November.
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