Markets ends mixed following strong data on wages, jobs
Record-Journal (Meriden, CT)
Worries about inflation weighed on Wall Street Friday, leaving major indexes mixed after a report showed wages for U.S. workers are accelerating, which is good news for them but could feed into even higher inflation for the nation.
The S&P 500 ended 0.1% lower after having been down as much as 1.2% earlier in the day.
The Nasdaq composite also trimmed its deficit, falling 0.2%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a 0.1% gain.
Stocks had been on the upswing for the last month on hopes the worst of the nation's high inflation may have passed already.
That fed expectations for the Federal Reserve to dial down the intensity of its big interest-rate hikes. Such hikes aim to undercut inflation by slowing the economy and dragging down prices for stocks and other investments.
But Friday's jobs report showed that wages for workers rose 5.1% last month from a year earlier.
That's an acceleration from October's 4.9% gain and easily topped economists' expectations for a slowdown.
Such jumps in pay are helpful to workers struggling to keep up with soaring prices for everyday necessities.
The Federal Reserve's worry is that too-strong gains could cause inflation to become further entrenched in the economy.
That's because wages make up a big part of costs for companies in services industries, and they could end up raising their own prices further to cover higher wages for their employees.
"Inflation is certainly moving in the right direction," said Adam Abbas, co-head of fixed income at Harris Associates, "but the market is still going to have to go through some calibration of the risk that we level off at 3% to 4% core inflation versus a natural, steady move down to" the 2% goal set by the Fed.
"After such a strong move over the last three and a half weeks," Abbas said about expectations for an easing up by the Fed, "maybe the market has gotten a little ahead of itself."
Across the economy, employers added 263,000 jobs last month.