US stocks mixed as recession fears weigh on sentiment

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, during morning trading, on March 8, 2023. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK - Wall Street stocks were mixed at the end of a choppy session on Wednesday, as markets weighed recession fears while a Federal Reserve report described inflation as persisting.

Analysts fretted over a bond market indicator that has historically been a warning sign of recessions: the gap in yields between the two- and 10-year Treasuries, with the shorter-term issue higher.

This “inversion” of the norm “is adding to investors’ worries,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research. “Whenever we have a deep inversion... that has pointed to recession in the past.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 0.2 per cent at 32,798.40.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 0.1 per cent at 3,992.01, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.4 per cent to 11,576.00.

The Fed’s “beige book” survey of economic conditions warned that the US economy still faced “widespread” inflationary pressures.

The report came a day after Fed chairman Jerome Powell told a Senate panel the US central bank could hike rates more than expected to quash inflation.

Data released on Wednesday showed private sector employment surged by 242,000 jobs in February, around double the prior month’s level and significantly more than analysts expected.

The figures come ahead of Friday’s keenly-anticipated government jobs data for February. Analysts expect the US economy added 205,000 jobs last month and that unemployment held steady at 3.4 per cent. AFP

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.