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Stocks Eke Out Profits As Labor Market Cools, Rate-Cut Bets Increase

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As investors adjusted their expectations for a rate cut in response to weaker-than-expected economic data, US stocks fluctuated between positive and negative territory on Tuesday, ultimately closing marginally higher.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) and the S&P 500 (^GSPC) erased earlier losses to rise by roughly 0.1%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) gained by roughly 0.4%.

The recent lackluster manufacturing data has caused Wall Street strategists to reduce their optimism for economic growth, which supports a case for rate cuts. However, Federal Reserve officials have cautioned against hoping for a pivot anytime soon as they wait for inflation to cool sufficiently—and when that time comes is unclear. Stocks have struggled to find a footing in recent days as investors face uncertainty over the path of interest rates.

Ahead of the pivotal May jobs report on Friday, which is the week’s most important data point, new government data released on Tuesday revealed that job openings fell in April to the lowest level since February 2021 as the labor market continues to show signs of rebalancing.

Almost two-thirds now expect at least one cut by the Fed’s September meeting, a significant gain from one week ago, as traders have modified their expectations for rate cuts in recent days, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

On Tuesday, the momentum surrounding the GameStop (GME) rally, which was a component of the erratic summer stock market debut, faded following a 21% increase for the meme darling. The retailer of video games saw a 5% decrease in share prices.

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