US equities finished mostly lower on Thur in choppy trading. Investors were probably in a cautious frame of mind. The December nonfarm payroll (NFP) number will be released later today (Fri). A strong jobs number will encourage the Fed to accelerate their plans to remove stimulus.
A Reuters poll of forecasts from 65 economists for the NFP number range from a low of 150,000 to a high of 1.1m (Nov's NFP number was 210,000). The average is around 420,000.
We got more hawkish Fed speak on Thur. James Bullard, the President of the St. Louis Fed, said the central bank may hike as soon as Mar and could then shrink its balance sheet as a next step in response to surging inflation.
Tech stocks and small caps outperformed the general market on Thur, which is a break from the recent trend. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 170.64 pts, or 0.47%, to close at 36,236.47. The S&P 500 fell 0.1%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.13%. The small cap Russell 2000 climbed 0.56%.
Meta Platforms (FB US) rose 2.56% on Thur, the biggest boost to the S&P 500.
Banks and energy stocks, last year’s winners, did well on Thur. Regional banks, such as Fifth Third (FITB US, +4.18%) and Regions (RF US, +4.86%), did best, but Citi (C US, +3.28%), and Wells Fargo (WFC US, +2.56%) and Bank of America (BAC US, +2.01%) also put in solid gains.
The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE US) rose 2.23%. The front-month Brent and WTI futures closed up $1.19 at US$81.99/bbl and $1.61 at US$79.46/bbl respectively
The 10-year Treasury note yield edged up 1.59 basis points (bps) to 1.7211%.
Goldbugs got nervous about higher rates on Thur. The most actively traded US gold futures (Feb) contracts settled down $35.90, or nearly 2.0%, at US$1,789.20/oz. March silver, which is the most actively traded silver futures, fell 98 cents, or 4.2%, to end at US$22.190/oz.
Deadly protests in Kazakhstan have interrupted the mining of Bitcoin The second-biggest country for bitcoin mining lost its internet access, taking as much as 15% of the network offline. Bitcoin is trading below US$43,000, down 8% from where it was earlier in the week.
The ICE dollar index (DXY), which measures the strength of the greenback against a basket of currencies, rose 0.15% to 96.320.
European equity markets finished lower on Thur. The UK FTSE lost 0.88%, France's CAC 40 fell 1.72%, while the German DAX retreated 1.35%.