Wall Street starts on a positive footing after US unemployment falls more than unexpected
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US stocks fall as S&P 500 posts its worst single-session in nearly three months

But Apple, which was down as much as 8.3% during the day, closed up slightly to $120.96 a share

Apple Inc. - Wall Street heads for mixed open with Nasdaq the laggard; non-farm payrolls in focus

4:05pm: US stocks down for second-straight day

Stocks fell Friday, extending declines after a selloff a day earlier led the S&P 500 to its worst single-session drop in nearly three months.

The S&P 500 slid 0.81% to 3,426 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.3% to 11.313 on tech weakness. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which briefly turned positive after dropping as much as 2.2%, closed down 0.56% to 28,133.

But Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), which was down as much as 8.3% during the day, closed up slightly to $120.96 a share.

1.20pm: US stocks plunge again

US stocks were still plunging in early afternoon deals in New York, with the Nasdaq down 2.67% as the tech firms succumbed again.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average also shed over 353 points at 27,940, while the S&P 500 tanked over 57 at 3,397.

"This has been a turbulent week for tech, with Apple’s valuation in particular soaring to fresh highs following the 4-1 stock split, before shares dived by 8% yesterday and fell again today," noted Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

"Apple has been on the stock chopping block five times since it went public in 1980, and the price of Apple’s shares have tended to fall in the weeks following a split. So although this was to be expected, we have also seen Amazon, Alphabet, Netflix, Microsoft and Facebook sliding over the past two sessions," she added.

"Electric car maker Tesla, which also saw a share split come into effect early this week, and video conferencing service Zoom are among the fallers on the Nasdaq."

12pm EST/ 5pm: FTSE 100 closes in red

FTSE 100 index closed Friday sharply lower, having been in positive territory earlier, as Wall Street stocks tanked again.

Britain's blue chip index finished down around 51 points, or 0.89%, at 5,799.

The more UK- focused FTSE 250 shed over 116, or 0.67%m at 17,342. Meanwhile, in New York, the Dow Jones slumped over 550 points, or nearly 2%, while the Nasdaq and S&P 500 sank more than 2% as the tech sell-off continued.

"Like yesterday, European equity markets have been pulled into the red by the tech-led declines in the US. Stocks were showing modest gains on the back of the US non-farm payrolls report, but the bearish moves in the US rocked confidence over here," noted analyst David Madden, at CMC Markets.

US and Canada 11.30am EST/4.30pm

Wall Street stocks were back in the doldrums on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged over 510 points at 27,782. The broader-based S&P 500 index shed over 75 at 3,380. The tech heavy Nasdaq exchange shed around 373 points at 11,089. Up in Toronto, the TSX index plunged over 354 points at 16,094.

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9.40am: Wall Street in green

Despite predictions of a mixed open, the main Wall Street indices all quickly shifted into the green in the early minutes of Friday’s session

Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.54% at 28,452 while the S&P 500 climbed 0.47% to 3,471 and the Nasdaq rose 0.5% to 11,514.

Markets seem to have a spring in their step after the US unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 8.4% in August from 10.2% in July. Analysts had expected the jobless rate to decline to 9.8%.

The NFP data, which hit forecasts of 1.4 million jobs added in August, may also have left some traders breathing a sigh of relief after the ADP data miss earlier this week.

However, some analysts have pointed out that the NFP data does show the rate of job additions is slowing, with ING saying unemployment was likely to remain “persistently high and that the US economy will not fully recoup all its lost output before mid-2022 unless there is a new large fiscal stimulus and good news on a [coronavirus] vaccine”.

“Phase one of the recovery certainly went better than we could have hoped as the economy re-opened and a combination of pent up demand and generous unemployment support programs fueled growth. However, the current environment of weak consumer confidence, employment still being 11.6mn less than February, the hit to incomes from the cut in unemployment payments and the absence of a broader fiscal support package means there are major challenges for the economy as it tries to recoup all its lost output”, the bank added.

7.36am: Wall Street heads for mixed open

In something of a reversal from sessions earlier this week, the main Wall Street indices are expected to start on a mixed note but with the Nasdaq on the back foot following yesterday’s tech plunge.

According to spread-betters, the tech-heavy index is expected to start 85 points lower at 11,694, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average is predicted to rise 156 points to 28,444 and the S&P 500 is forecast to climb 8.5 points to 3,463.

All eyes will also be on the macro today with non-farm payroll (NFP) data for August the main event. Investors may be a little nervous after the ADP numbers earlier this week missed expectations by showing only 428,000 private sector jobs were added in the month, undershooting predictions of around 1.17 million.

The NFP data is expected to show 1.4 million US jobs were added in August, below the 1.7 million in July, however, this will still leave the figure around 11 million below the pre-pandemic level. The US unemployment rate is also due and is expected to show a decline in joblessness to 9.8% from 10.2% in July.

“A strong jobs report would add weight to the argument the recovery continues. The latest manufacturing and services updates have been positive, broadly speaking. On the other side of the coin, a disappointing update could put pressure on the Republicans to reach a compromise with the Democrats with regards the stimulus package”, said David Madden at CMC Markets.

Three things to watch for on Friday:

  • Aside from the NFP and unemployment data, there will also be average hourly earnings data for the US labour market for August, which are predicted to show no change compared to a 0.2% rise in July
  • Share price reaction from big tech stocks including Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) following Thursday’s sharp decline
  • Share price movements from Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) following today’s release of its Mulan reboot. The film has already garnered backlash from activists in Hong Kong due to comments from lead actress Liu Yifei supporting actions by the city’s police force during last year’s protests

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