Stocks are reeling after the latest batch of economic data, minutes ahead of the Fed

Stocks were mixed on Wednesday and rates fell as investors digested key jobs and manufacturing data ahead of the release of the Federal Reserve’s meeting minutes.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 63 points, or 0.19%, reversing earlier losses but hitting the day’s high. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite recovered losses to trade up 0.48% and 0.40%, respectively.

The November jobs and labor turnover report, or JOLTS, came in slightly better than expected, indicating continued labor market strength amid the central bank’s rate hikes to control inflation. The ISM manufacturing index, on the other hand, showed a contraction in the sector after 30 months of expansion, indicating that interest rate hikes could work to slow the economy.

However, investors struggled to find clear direction ahead of upcoming economic data, including minutes from a later meeting on Wednesday and a December jobs report on Friday.

“It’s very much a wait-and-see mode,” says B. said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Relay Financial. “After finishing a really terrible year on all fronts, there’s always trepidation by investors putting money to work, and we’re seeing that in real time, at least in the first couple of trading days.”

U.S. stocks started 2023 lower on Tuesday as rate worries, high inflation and recession fears dampened hopes that Wall Street could start the new year on a positive note. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite lost 0.4% and 0.8%, respectively, while the Dow closed just below the breakeven. Major indices also came under pressure with steep declines in shares of Apple and Tesla.

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“U.S. stocks were unable to hold on to earlier gains as tight policy and recession fears were front and center for investors,” Onda senior market analyst Ed Moya wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday. “Discount buying sparked another short-lived bear market rebound.”

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