The week on Wall St.
Stocks were mixed last week amid conflicting economic data and continued spread of the Delta variant.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.24% during the five trading days. But the Standard & Poor’s 500 tacked on 0.58% and the Nasdaq Composite index rose 1.55%. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, gained 1.51%.1,2,3
Investors gravitated toward the high growth technology and communication services sectors, as well as the more defensive sectors, such as utilities and real estate. Reopening stocks were weighed down by Delta variant fears and a retreating consumer, while energy struggled to bounce in the wake of Hurricane Ida shutting down energy production and refining capacity.4
Stocks appeared to shrug off a shaky employment report on Friday, despite the questions it raised about economic growth in the months ahead.
After initial jobless claims reached a new pandemic low on Thursday, the August employment report on Friday came in below expectations as payrolls expanded by 235,000. Adding to the subdued report was a 4% decline in the number of hours worked by employees. On the positive side, the Friday report showed the unemployment rate fell to 5.2%, while wage growth rose 0.6% from July and increased 4.3% from August 2020.5
The weak employment report may reflect a pause in hiring due to the Delta variant. It could additionally muddy the outlook for the Federal Reserve, which has indicated it may begin tapering before year-end. The uncertain jobs picture may force the Fed to push its tapering start date into 2022.5
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