Wall Street appeared headed for another selloff Friday as robust US jobs numbers stoked investor fears that the Federal Reserve will impose bigger rate hikes in the coming months to tame surging inflation.
In response, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 500 points at the start of trading on Wall Street on Friday. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 fared no better. The tech stock index was down nearly 300 points — or 2.35% — while the S&P fell 1.68% within the first 30 minutes of the opening bell.
The selloff comes just hours after the markets experienced their worst day in two years, when the Dow plunged more than 1,000 points while the Nasdaq fell by 5%.
Investors worry about whether the Federal Reserve, which raised its key interest rate by a half percentage point on Wednesday, can cool inflation without tipping the US economy into recession.
Traders were briefly encouraged by chairman Jerome Powell’s comment that the Fed wasn’t considering even bigger increases.
Despite soaring inflation, rising gas prices, and the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine, America’s job market has added an impressive average of 540,000 workers a month over the past year.
Unemployment remains at 3.6% — slightly above the lowest levels of joblessness in 50 years.
Stock volatility is also roiling overseas markets. In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 2.2% to 3,001.56 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng plunged 3.8% to 20,001.96. The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo added 0.7% to 27,003.56.
Oil prices stayed above $100 per barrel despite a decision Thursday by major oil producers to increase exports. European governments are considering an embargo on Russian oil and are trying to line up other supplies in a tight market.
Benchmark U.S. crude gained $1.58 to $109.84 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The contract rose 45 cents to $108.26 on Thursday. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, advanced $1.80 to $112.70 per barrel in London. It rose 76 cents the previous session to $110.90 a barrel.