U.S. stocks halted a five-month rally as oil tumbled and traders awaited jobs data to assess the outlook for interest rates in the world’s largest economy. The dollar rose.
Energy shares led losses in the S&P 500 Index as crude traded near $ 45 a barrel after data showed U.S. stockpiles climbed by more than projected. Treasuries headed toward their worst month since June 2015, while the greenback extended its August advance. South Africa’s rand led declines among major peers after the country’s biggest private fixed-income money manager said it will stop lending money to six of the largest state-run companies.
Stocks have wobbled between gains and losses as investors sharpen their focus toward August’s employment data due on Friday, which may influence a Fed move in three weeks. Before that, a private report by the ADP Research Institute Wednesday signaled the labor market continued to see steady growth. While policy makers have said they will boost borrowing costs gradually, Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s bullish economic assessment last week spurred bets a move could come as soon as next month.
U.S. employers added 180,000 jobs in August, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists. While that’s down from a 255,000 increase in July, the monthly labor-force number has exceeded expectations in the past two readings. The prospect of an increase in U.S. rates as early as next month climbed to 34 percent, from 18 percent at the start of August, according to fed fund futures data compiled by Bloomberg. The chance of an increase by December was 60 percent.
The S&P 500 fell 0.4 percent at 11:55 a.m. in New York, declining for the fifth time in six sessions. After reaching a record on Aug. 15, the gauge has failed to maintain its momentum amid mixed economic reports and speculation over the timing of the next Fed interest-rate increase. Meanwhile, the CBOE Volatility Index has rallied 16 percent in August, on track for its biggest monthly increase in a year.
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