Stock Market Today: Stocks Retreat After Strong Job Openings Data

Stocks erased early gains to end lower Tuesday after economic data signaled continued strength in the labor market.

All three major indexes opened in positive territory today but slipped into the red after the Labor Department said there were 10.7 million job openings in the U.S. in September – up from 10.3 million in August. 

The report comes as the Federal Reserve kicked off its two-day policy meeting, with the central bank expected to issue its fourth straight 75 basis point rate hike tomorrow. (A basis point = 0.01%.) However, what investors really want to know is what the Fed plans to do next on monetary policy (opens in new tab) – and today’s economic news spooked investors into thinking more jumbo-sized rate hikes could be on the horizon.

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“Momentum was building on expectations for the Fed to downshift their tightening pace in December, but now that call seems like it may have been premature,” says Edward Moya, senior market strategist at currency data provider OANDA. “Rates might need to stay higher for longer if the labor market is still healthy and inflation ends up being stickier than markets are initially thinking.”

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At the close, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 0.2% at 32,653, the broader S&P 500 Index was 0.4% lower at 3,856, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was down 0.9% at 10,890.

Midterm Elections and the Stock Market

This week, all eyes will be on tomorrow’s Fed decision and Friday’s October jobs report, but the midterms aren’t far behind. While early voting is already underway, the election will conclude next Tuesday, Nov. 8. “The entire House of Representatives (435 seats), 34 senators, and 36 governors will be determined,” says John Lynch, chief investment officer for Comerica Wealth Management. “At stake is control of Congress and potentially the path for legislative policy and regulation for the next two years.” 

Lynch adds that several polling sites are predicting a “variety of outcomes, further confusing the picture for investors and voters.” However, as counterintuitive as it might seem, the results of the midterm elections may not even matter to stock market returns. Read on as we explore why.

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