(Reuters) – The S&P 500 hovered near record high on Wednesday as U.S. private payrolls increased in June even as hiring slowed, with Wall Street’s major averages set to end their fifth straight quarter of gains.
The ADP National Employment Report showed private payrolls increased by 692,000 jobs this month, down from 886,000 additions in May as companies scrambled for workers to meet a surge in demand amid a rapidly reopening economy.
The Labor Department’s more comprehensive and closely watched employment data for June is due on Friday and market participants fear a strong reading could force the U.S. Federal Reserve to pare back its ultra-loose monetary policy.
“The monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics report has disappointed for the last two months. A third disappointment would cement the fact that the economic gains are starting to lose momentum,” said John Brady, senior vice president at R.J. O’Brien & Associates in Chicago.
Prospects of a transitory spike in inflation have pushed the benchmark S&P 500 and the Nasdaq to record highs in recent sessions, helped by a comeback in tech-heavy growth stocks.
The S&P growth index, which houses mega-cap names Apple Inc, Amazon, Facebook Inc and Microsoft Corp, has jumped nearly 11.9% this quarter, outperforming its value peer and narrowing the gap for the year-to-date performance.
The S&P 500 has climbed about 14.3% in the first half of the year and is set for its second best first-half performance since 1998, with energy, financials, real estate and communication services stocks notching the best performance at the sectoral level.
“The second half of the year could certainly bring in an increase in volatility depending on what Fed policy does. Does the Fed taper? Does inflation go higher?” Brady said.
Graphic: S&P 500’s second best H1 since 1998 –
At 9:55 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 52.81 points, or 0.15%, at 34,345.10, the S&P 500 was down 0.83 points, or 0.02%, at 4,290.97, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 26.06 points, or 0.18%, at 14,502.28.
Six of the 11 major S&P indexes rose with energy leading the pact higher, tracking oil prices. [O/R]
Micron Technology rose 1.1% as BMO upgraded the stock to “outperform” from “market perform” on continued supply-demand imbalance in 2022. The chipmaker is expected to post quarterly results after markets close.
Virgin Galactic Holdings fell 4.6% after BofA Global Research downgraded billionaire Richard Branson’s spaceship company’s stock to “underperform” from “buy”.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.66-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 13 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 28 new highs and 21 new lows.
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