Selling pressure on tech stocks continued to plague Wall Street Thursday with the major averages all surrendering early gains to trade lower. Wednesday’s Congressional testimony by tech executives Sheryl Sandberg and Jack Dorsey continued to weigh on the sector amid concerns that Washington will enact regulations to restrain the social media industry.
Coupled with persistent fears of a protracted trade war between China and the US and its likely impact on the global economy, investors are again flocking to safe-haven assets. Gold is higher and Treasury yields are as much as two basis points lower.
Stocks were trending higher at the open with the help of bullish economic data and ongoing trade negotiations between the US and Canada. The private sector added 163,000 new jobs in August, less than what was expected, and down from +219,000 in July. At the same time, jobless claims fell 10,000 in the latest survey week to 203,000, its lowest level in almost 50 years, and below 213,000 estimates.
Data from the services sector was mixed as the purchasing manager’s index declined to 54.2 in August from the preliminary 55.2 and July’s 56.0. But a comparable survey from the Institute for Supply Management jumped to 58.5 in August from 55.7 previously, beating Wall Street’s 56.8 estimates.
On the manufacturing front, non-farm productivity was up 2.9% in the second quarter, while unit labor costs fell 1.0%. Factory orders fell a greater-than-expected 0.8% in July, but were up 0.2% excluding the transportation sector.
European bourses limped into the close, also giving up early gains in sympathy with price action in the US and ailing emerging markets. Germany’s DAX retreated below the key 12,000 level for the first time in five months on heavy losses in Bayer and banking stocks.
Crude oil was down $1.49 to $67.23 per barrel. Natural gas was down $0.02 to $2.78 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $2.60 to $1,204.00 an ounce, while silver was down $0.03 to $14.19 an ounce. Copper was down $0.03 to $2.64 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 2.28% to $14.16 with the United States Natural Gas Fund down 0.57% to $22.80. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 0.13% to 17.87 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.12% to $113.46. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.30% to $13.31.