US stocks choppy, whipsawing early Monday; Solid employment report Friday shows pre-pandemic job loss

US stocks were choppy early Monday morning, whipsawing between gains and losses hours before the opening bell.

Ticker Security Last Exchange Change %
I: DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 34818.27 +139.92 +0.40%
SP500 S&P500 4545.86 +15.45 +0.34%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 14261.499778 +40.98 +0.29%

US stocks edged higher Friday, buoyed by a solid employment report that showed the country’s jobless rate returning to pre-pandemic levels.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 139.92 points, or 0.4%, to 34818.27, while the S&P 500 climbed 15.45 points, or 0.3%, to 4545.86 and the Nasdaq Composite added 40.98 points, or 0.3%, to 14261.50.

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All three indexes started the day higher, edged lower in midday trading as yields on government bonds surged, then climbed again to end the day in the green.

The wobbly trading session came a day after the S&P 500 closed out its biggest quarterly decline since the start of 2020, falling about 5% for the first three months of the year. The benchmark stocks gauge ended the week up less than 0.1%.

US stocks were choppy early Monday morning, whipsawing between gains and losses hours before the opening bell. (Courtney Crow/New York Stock Exchange via AP))

Analysts said a healthy report Friday on the US jobs market eased worries over the recovery from the pandemic, though it also reinforced the likelihood of more interest rate hikes.

A strong jobs market and economy give the Federal Reserve more leeway to raise interest rates sharply in order to beat down price increases sweeping the country. The Fed has already raised its key overnight rate once, the first such increase since 2018. Following Friday’s jobs report, traders increased bets that the Fed will raise rates at its next meeting by double the usual amount.

Some economists say markets may be distorted by extraordinary measures taken by the Federal Reserve and other central banks to keep interest rates low.

Some economists say markets may be distorted by extraordinary measures taken by the Federal Reserve and other central banks to keep interest rates low. (Courtney Crow/New York Stock Exchange via AP/Associated Press)

As of early Monday, the 10-year yield was at 2.42%, up from 2.38% on Friday.

Meanwhile, shares in Asia were mostly higher Monday as gains carried over from an upbeat finish last week on Wall Street.

Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul advanced while Shanghai was closed for a holiday. Oil prices nudged higher and US futures were nearly unchanged.

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Shares in Hong Kong-traded Chinese companies rose after regulators in Beijing revised rules regarding access of overseas regulators to their audits of companies that have shares listed in overseas markets.

The Chinese financial magazine Caixin reported that China proposed the revisions of rules restricting sharing of financial data of offshore-traded companies to help resolving a longstanding dispute with the US that could result in more than 200 Chinese stocks being kicked off American exchanges. It would remove a requirement that on-site inspections of overseas-traded Chinese companies mainly be conducted by Chinese regulators, Caixin said.

“Signs of a potential compromise to keep Chinese stocks listed in the US may aid to relieve some of the delisting fears, which is one of the factors weighing on Chinese equities” in the past year, Jun Rong Yeap of IG said in a commentary.

In the bond market, the yield on the two-year Treasury approached its highest level in more than three years, leaping to 2.45% from 2.28% late Thursday. (Courtney Crow/New York Stock Exchange via AP)

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 1.9% to 22,462.17 after Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she would not seek a second term as the territory’s top official.

Lam’s five-year tenure has been marked by huge protests, a security crackdown and an overwhelming COVID-19 wave. Her successor will be picked in May and the city’s security chief during the 2019 protests is among the possible choices

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 gained 0.3% to 27,736.47. The Kospi in Seoul rose 0.6%, to 2,755.99. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5% to 7,526.70 while India’s Sensex jumped 2.2% to 60,558.20.

In the bond market, the yield on the two-year Treasury approached its highest level in more than three years, leaping to 2.45% from 2.28% late Thursday.

The two-year yield again surpassed the 10-year yield, which was also climbing, but not as quickly. It topped the 10-year yield last week for the first time since 2019. That’s considered a potential omen of a recession, but it’s not a perfect indicator.

Oil and gas prices have been rising as demand recovers from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a major oil and gas producer, has raised the risk that sanctions and export restrictions might crimp supplies.

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A barrel of US crude oil gained 46 cents to $99.73 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange early Monday. It dipped 1% on Friday to $99.27. Early last month, when disruptions to crude supplies were at their height, it briefly hit $130.

Brent crude, the international standard for pricing, picked up 59 cents to $104.98 per barrel.

In currency dealings, the dollar bought 122.72 Japanese yen, up from 122.61 late Friday. The euro rose to $1.1052 from $1.1042.

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