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Wall Street stocks end slightly higher as weak jobs data supports rate cut


By Chibuike Oguh

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks ended a shade higher on Tuesday following softer-than-expected labor market data that reaffirmed expectations of an interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve.

Data on Tuesday showed that U.S. job openings fell to their lowest level in more than three years in April, signaling an easing in labor market tightness that supported a Fed rate cut this year. The U.S. Treasury yields slipped following the report.

Wall Street’s main indexes gained ground after paring earlier loses. Equities in real estate and consumer staples sectors advanced ahead of others, while materials and energy stocks were the biggest losers.

The labor market data was the latest in a string of recent reports that pointed to cooling U.S. economic growth. Data on Monday showed that U.S. manufacturing activity had slowed for the second straight month in May.

“What we’ve seen in the data so far this week is that it’s been relatively weak, starting with manufacturing PMI and job openings today,” said James St. Aubin, chief investment officer at Sierra Mutual Funds in Santa Monica, California.

“That has had a total effect of helping the rally in the bond market; but for the stock market, it’s a double-edged sword because they’re looking for a rate cut announcement, which has a rising probability with weaker data,” St. Aubin added.

Market expectations for a September rate reduction now stand around 65%, versus below 50% last week, according to the CME’s FedWatch tool. The closely watched non-farm payrolls data for May is due on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 140.26 points, or 0.36%, to 38,711.29, the S&P 500 gained 7.94 points, or 0.15%, to 5,291.34 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 28.38 points, or 0.17%, to 16,857.05.

Megacap technology stocks, including Amazon.com, Alphabet, Nvidia and Microsoft, ended higher after losing ground early in the session.

Oil giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron fell 1.6% and 0.8%, respectively, as demand concerns weighed on crude prices.

Bath & Body Works slumped 12.8% after a lower revision to its quarterly profit forecast. Axos Financial dropped after Hindenburg Research disclosed a short position in the lender.

Paramount Global fell 4.4% after the media conglomerate said it was exploring strategic options or a joint venture for its Paramount+ streaming service.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 1.32-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. On the Nasdaq, 1,468 stocks rose and 2,762 fell as declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 1.88-to-1 ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 19 new 52-week highs and 6 new lows while the Nasdaq Composite recorded 40 new highs and 134 new lows.

Total volume of shares traded across U.S. exchanges was about 10.6 billion, compared with the 12.6 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

(Reporting by Chibuike Oguh in New York; additional reporting by Lisa Mattackal and Johann M Cherian in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai and Matthew Lewis)



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