A weak jobs report and remarks from Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen that stocks are overheated put a chill on Wall Street today, and sent stocks into the red.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.5 percent to 17,842 while the S&P 500 fell 0.44 percent to close at 2,080. Today’s declines were on top of a sharp retreat yesterday, which was driven by government data showing weak exports due to a strong dollar. The retail sector was surprisingly varied and many stocks finished the day on the plus side. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. squeaked by with a 0.01 percent gain to close at $77.65 while Kohl’s Corp. gained 2 percent to $72.96 and L Brands Inc. jumped 1 percent to $90.83. The decliners included Macy’s, which fell 1.4 percent to $63.61 and Sears Holding Corp. with a 0.1 percent drop to $41.33.
The WWD Global Stock Tracker closed down 0.2 percent to 111.70.
The jobs report on payroll additions was tallied by ADP Research Institute and said there were 169,000 jobs added in March – well below what analysts were expecting. Investors are also concerned over a Federal jobs report due Friday. In April, the Labor Department said there were 126,000 new jobs added to the workforce in March, which was well-below expectations. Economists polled by Bloomberg expect 230,000 new jobs for April.
The other concern weighing on the market were comments from Yellen. Surveying the financial landscape for signs of bubbles after more than six years of near-zero rates, Yellen warned that both stocks and bonds are richly valued.
“I would highlight that equity-market valuations at this point generally are quite high,” Yellen said in Washington on Wednesday in response to a question at a forum on finance. “Now, they’re not so high when you compare the returns on equities to the returns on safe assets like bonds, which are also very low, but there are potential dangers there.”
With contributions from Bloomberg