U.S. stocks witness heavy weekly sell-off amid higher inflation concerns

NEW YORK, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks fluctuated dramatically during the week, before ending the week sharply lower, as a strong jobs report triggered panic sales amid rate hike concerns.

On Monday, the Dow plummet nearly 1,600 points briefly in late trading, marking the worst intraday fall in market history. The index settled 1,175.21 points, or 4.60 percent lower while the S&P 500 slumped 4.10 percent on Monday, both erasing 2018's gains.

The steep sell-off started on Friday, when a stronger-than-expected jobs report suddenly reinforced investors' concerns of rising bond yields and higher inflation.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 200,000 in January, and the unemployment rate stayed unchanged at 4.1 percent, stronger than market expectations, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

Tuesday is marked by a return of volatility to the equities market that have been absent for quite some time.

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average traded in an over-1,100 point range throughout the session. It fell more than 500 points at the open, rebounded shortly afterwards to a one-percent gain and then witnessed wild swings before surging more than 600 points in the late trading.

At the close, the Dow added 567.02 points, or 2.33 percent, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq jumped 1.74 percent and 2.13 percent respectively.

On Wednesday, U.S. stocks went through a relatively calm session. The three indices ended lower after fluctuating between gains and losses, as investors became cautious amid rising bond yields.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 1,000 points, worsening the week-long sell-off and dragging down the market to an official correction in two years, as high volatility battered investors' confidence.

Both the Dow and the S&P 500 registered a 10-percent drop from their highs at the close on Thursday, indicating a market correction by Wall Street's traditional definition.

U.S. stocks ended higher on Friday, with the Dow trading in an over-1,000-point range, as nervous investor sentiment dominated the market.

Traders said that the investors' move to lock in profits, possibly some computer-programmed trading, combined with concerns about interest rates have sent the equities into correction territory.

Most analysts believed that the recent pullback was not linked to economic fundamentals. Instead, it was a healthy market correction that is welcomed and long overdue.

However, Societe Generale remains cautious for 2018 as extreme positioning, tapering of central bank liquidity and underestimated risks of inflation repricing may continue to exert pressure on risk assets.

On the economic front, the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index registered 59.9 percent in January, 3.9 percentage points higher than the seasonally adjusted December reading and beating market consensus of 56.2, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said Monday.

The seasonally adjusted final IHS Markit U.S. Services Business Activity Index registered 53.3 in January, in line with market expectations.

In the week ending Feb. 3, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 221,000, a decrease of 9,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 230,000, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday.

The four-week moving average was 224,500, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week's unrevised average of 234,500. This is the lowest level for this average since March 10, 1973 when it was 222,000.

For the week, all three major indices dropped deeply, with the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq plunging 5.21 percent, 5.16 percent and 5.06 percent, respectively.

[ Editor: WPY ]


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