Amid a jobs report that showed strength in numbers, but weaker wage growth, investors weighed how the Federal Reserve would react to the data and time an interest rate hike.
In morning trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were both flat at 17,754 and 2,077, respectively, while the S&P Retailing Industry Group index shed 0.3 percent to 1,144. Macy’s Inc. was down 0.2 percent to $67.55 while Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was up 0.4 percent to $72.19. Shares of Aeropostale were up over 10 percent on news of an expansion into Asia.
In regard to the jobs report, IHS chief economist Nariman Behravesh said that while the data was solid, “June’s report was a bit of a mixed bag—especially for the Fed. On the one hand, jobs growth in the 200,000 to 225,000 range is consistent with an economy that is growing in the 2.5 percent to 3 percent range. This means Fed officials can take comfort from the growing evidence that the recovery is on track.”
But Behravesh was quick to add that two things in the jobs report “will continue to worry the Fed. First, the drop in the unemployment rate to pre-recession levels was the result of a sharp fall in the labor force. While some of this may be due to seasonal factors, it cannot be brushed off entirely.”
Meanwhile, European stocks were down on concerns over the Greek debt crisis.