US STOCKS fell yesterday, hit by nervousness ahead of today’s jobs report and lingering uncertainty over a Greece aid deal with creditors.
Declining oil and gold prices also weighed on energy and materials shares, which led declines in the benchmark S&P 500.
Data showed the labour market tightening, with first-time applications for unemployment aid down last week and the number of people on benefit rolls hitting the lowest level since 2000, suggesting the Federal Reserve will remain on track to raise interest rates later this year.
The data came ahead of today’s key US jobs report, expected to show a 225,000 gain in non-farm payrolls, according to a Reuters estimate. Some investors think stronger jobs numbers could increase chances the Fed could raise rates sooner rather than later.
Adding to investor concerns, Greece delayed a debt payment to the International Monetary Fund due today and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said talks on a cash-for-reforms deal were still far from an agreement.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 170.69 points, or 0.94 per cent, to 17,905.58, the S&P 500 lost 18.23 points, or 0.86 per cent, to 2,095.84 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 40.11 points, or 0.79 per cent, to 5,059.13.
Meanwhile the International Monetary Fund urged the Federal Reserve not to raise rates until there are clear signs of a pickup in wages and inflation.
In a bearish sign, the S&P 500 closed below its 50-day moving average, a key technical indicator.