Ten of the 11 major S&P sectors declined in early trading, with financials falling the most. Bank of America dropped 3.0% and the broader banks index was down 2.9%, tracking a fall in Treasury yields. [US/]
Equities globally were weaker and safe-havens in demand as Russian invasion forces seized Europe's biggest nuclear power plant in what Washington called a reckless assault that risked catastrophe.[MKTS/GLOB]
The Labor Department's closely watched employment report showed jobs grew by a more than expected 678,000 last month and that the unemployment rate fell to 3.8%, the lowest since February 2020.
"Today's strong jobs report is likely to be overshadowed by events in Ukraine, which are causing risk aversion and a flight to safety," said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance.
The crisis, however, boosted energy stocks as crude prices rallied on the back of Western sanctions against Russia, a major oil producer. The S&P 500 energy sector gained 1.2% and looked set to end the week with gains of over 7%.
The commodity price surge spurred by the sanctions has raised fears of even higher inflation, which could prompt the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates aggressively.[O/R]
Fed Chair Jerome Powell said this week he would support a 25-basis-point interest rate increase at the central bank's March 15-16 policy meeting and would be "prepared to move more aggressively" later if inflation does not abate as fast as expected.
At 10:07 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 395.90 points, or 1.17%, at 33,398.76, the S&P 500 was down 52.68 points, or 1.21%, at 4,310.81, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 172.27 points, or 1.27%, at 13,365.67.
Richly valued growth stocks have faced the brunt of the selloff so far this week, with the S&P 500 growth index down 2%. Its value counterpart has recorded a smaller fall of 1.3%, thanks to support from soaring energy shares.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq was down over 2% for the week, the most among the three main indexes, while the blue-chip Dow eyed its fourth straight weekly fall.
The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall Street's fear gauge, was last trading at 33.81.
"The market is confused. Even on days when we have decent rallies in the market, the VIX has not come down really below 30 and that's pretty high," said Liz Young, head of investment strategy at SoFi.
"What that tells me is the market cannot decide which direction to go. There's a lot of conflicting factors and market participants are trying to weigh which ones are going to be the most important now."
Google owner Alphabet Inc slipped 2.1%, leading the declines among the mega-cap growth names.
Gap Inc fell 1.5% even as the apparel retailer forecast upbeat 2022 earnings.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 3.55-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.90-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 9 new 52-week highs and 16 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 13 new highs and 200 new lows.
(Reporting by Devik Jain and Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru; Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Aditya Soni)
By Devik Jain and Sabahatjahan Contractor