S&P 500 hovers near record high as private payrolls jump

S&P 500 hovers near record high as private payrolls jump
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NEW YORK (June 30): The S&P 500 hovered near a record high on Wednesday as US private payrolls increased in June even as hiring slowed, with Wall Street's major averages set to end their fifth straight quarter of gains.

The ADP National Employment Report showed private payrolls increased by 692,000 jobs this month, down from 886,000 additions in May as companies scrambled for workers to meet a surge in demand amid a rapidly reopening economy.

The Labor Department's more comprehensive and closely watched employment data for June is due on Friday and market participants fear a strong reading could force the US Federal Reserve to pare back its ultra-loose monetary policy.

"The monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics report has disappointed for the last two months. A third disappointment would cement the fact that the economic gains are starting to lose momentum," said John Brady, senior vice president at RJ O'Brien & Associates in Chicago.

Prospects of a transitory spike in inflation have pushed the benchmark S&P 500 and the Nasdaq to record highs in recent sessions, helped by a comeback in tech-heavy growth stocks.

The S&P growth index, which houses mega-cap names Apple Inc, Amazon, Facebook Inc and Microsoft Corp, has jumped nearly 11.9% this quarter, outperforming its value peer and narrowing the gap for the year-to-date performance.

The S&P 500 has climbed about 14.3% in the first half of the year and is set for its second best first-half performance since 1998, with energy, financials, real estate and communication services stocks notching the best performance at the sectoral level.

"The path of least resistance seems to be higher for the markets on the back of central bank liquidity tailwind, fiscal stimulus, pent up savings ... ," said Todd Lowenstein, equity strategist at the Private Bank at Union Bank in Santa Barbara, California.

While major US stock indexes reach new highs, options data suggests traders see the market as vulnerable to a big drop should bears gain the upper hand, Goldman Sachs strategists wrote in a note on Friday.

At 11:48am ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 142.72 points, or 0.42%, at 34,435.01 and the S&P 500 was up 3.35 points, or 0.08%, at 4,295.15. The Nasdaq Composite was down 17.42 points, or 0.12%, at 14,510.91.

Six of the 11 major S&P indexes rose, with energy leading the pack after tracking oil prices.

Micron Technology rose 1.2% as BMO upgraded the stock to "outperform" from "market perform" on continued supply-demand imbalance in 2022. The chipmaker is expected to post quarterly results after markets close.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.2-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 1.2-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 posted 17 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 85 new highs and 33 new lows.