Markets Right Now: Indexes slide as energy, tech stocks sink

Traders worked the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday

USA employers added a robust 200,000 jobs in January, slightly above market expectations for a 185,000 increase. Prior to the selloff, it had gone 448 days without suffering a drop of 3% or more, the longest run on record. Are we going to see more inflation?. Friday's job and wage data stoked those concerns.

Bond prices on Friday declined again, pushing yields higher. "Rates have risen fairly quickly this year and the speed of the advance is worrying". Against this backdrop, the Dow is on track to trade below 26,000 for the first time since January 22, and in danger of snapping its four-week winning streak. The Nasdaq slid 144.92 points, or 2 per cent, to 7,240.95.

But market players are not convinced that the bull market in stocks that that saw the S&P 500 rise 5.6 percent in January is over.

Industry observers say the almost 7% stock bump over the week signal speculation that the incoming CEO might be open to selling off the company's entertainment assets.

Reports from both Apple and Google parent Alphabet late Thursday disappointed investors, as did Friday's results from ExxonMobil and Chevron, but fourth-quarter S&P 500 company results overall have been much stronger than expected. Brent crude, used to price global oils, fell 68 cents, or 1 percent, to $68.97 per barrel in London.

ExxonMobil slumped 5.1 per cent after reporting a huge increase in fourth-quarter profits due to one-time benefits from USA tax reform.

Other major indexes fell about 2 percent Friday.

Topix index fell 0.3 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 0.1 percent, the Kospi index declined 1.7 percent, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.5 percent.

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All of the index's 10 main groups were in negative territory.

Some analysts fear the Fed may hike rates four times this year, more than the three they have already signaled. Beyond low unemployment, average hourly wages grew 2.9 percent in the first month of the year compared to January 2017.

This has been a volatile week for USA stocks.

Ironically, Friday's selloff was sparked by continued good news in the job market, with the government reporting that the economy created 200,000 jobs in January, and data showing wages for US workers rose at their fastest pace since 2009 - a pick-up in pay that spurred fears of a spike in inflation. Bloomberg's dollar index surged to erase a weekly loss.

The sharp decline in stocks this week short-circuited a robust start to the year that was spurred by strong global economic growth, solid company earnings and lingering enthusiasm for the GOP tax overhaul.

Their goal was to incentivize investors to put their cash to work in the economy - for example, by buying corporate stocks and bonds - rather than stashing it in the relative safety of government bonds.

More recently, the market had been surging in the so-called 'Trump rally'. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares gave up 0.6 per cent.

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