Wed, 26 Jan 2022

New York [US], December 4 (ANI/Sputnik): US stocks tumbled for a second week in a row, roiled by fears of an imminent rate hike by the Federal Reserve and the possibility of another round of global economic turmoil from potential measures to address the coronavirus Omicron variant.

The Labor Department announced earlier on Friday the unemployment rate in November stood at just 0.2% above the Federal Reserve's 4% target for maximum employment and key criteria for an interest rate hike. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said earlier this week that the central bank was already thinking of speeding up the taper of its pandemic-era stimulus and putting in a rate hike as expeditiously as possible to rein in inflation.

Reports of cases of Omicron in the United States have begun flowing in, with more states reporting infections after the first one reported in California earlier this week.

The November jobs numbers and Omicron cases proved to be a double-whammy for Wall Street.

At the close, the biggest losers were technology stocks on the Nasdaq Composite. The index - which groups Big Tech names such as Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google - fell 296 points, or 1.9%, on the day to close at 15,086. For the week, the Nasdaq fell 2.6%, adding to last week's 3.5% rout.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which comprises mostly industrial stocks, lost 60 points, or 0.2%, to settle at 34,580. The Dow fell almost 1% on the week, after last week's drop of nearly 2%.

The SP 500 index, which groups the top 500 US stocks, finished down 39 points, or 0.8%, at 4,538. The SP fell 1.2% for the week, adding to last week's 2.2% drop.

Despite their recent setback on Omicron fears, US stocks are still having one of their best years, with the Dow up 13%, the SP 500 showing a gain of 20% and Nasdaq a rise of 18%.

"It's clear from comments this week by Chairman Jerome Powell and his colleagues that the plan has changed recently and they now intend to taper faster, raise rates sooner," Craig Erlam, an analyst at online trading platform OANDA, said. "But Omicron could complicate efforts further just as the economic data was starting to catch up. A strong (jobs) report today leaves the Fed[eral] Reserve well and truly backed into a corner." (ANI/Sputnik)

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