Wall Street ups and downs mirror recent economic, jobs data

According to the Associated Press, Wall Street drifted between small gains and losses early today ahead of more economic news, including an inflation indicator and more jobs data.

Futures for the Dow Jones industrials and the S&P 500 were both essentially unchanged about an hour before the opening bell.

Markets rallied Tuesday after the Conference Board reported that consumer confidence tumbled in August, surprising economists who were expecting levels to hold steady around the strong July reading. Consumer confidence and spending have been closely watched amid persistent pressure from inflation.

Also on Tuesday, the government reported that job openings fell to the lowest level since March 2021, a larger drop than economists expected. The report also showed that the number of Americans quitting their jobs fell sharply for the second straight month, clear signs that the labor market is cooling in a way that could reduce inflation. Investors hope that could deter the Fed from raising its benchmark borrowing rate again when it meets later this month. 

Investors and economists have several more big economic reports on tap this week, including new data on consumer spending Thursday, which contains a measure of inflation that is closely watched by the Federal Reserve. The monthly employment report for August is due out on Friday.

In equities trading, Box tumbled almost 10% in premarket after the cloud computing company reached Wall Street’s second-quarter targets, but dialed back expectations for the full year. HP also lowered guidance for 2023 and its stock skidded more than 9%.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 48 cents to $81.64 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 44 cents to $85.35 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged up to 146.25 Japanese yen from 145.87 yen.