Stocks close lower as investors await September jobs report, Dow drops nearly 350 points

Pro Picks: Watch all of Thursday's big stock calls on CNBC
Pro Picks: Watch all of Thursday's big stock calls on CNBC

U.S. stocks fell Thursday, as traders weighed sharp swings in stocks and rates to start the month.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 346.93 points, or 1.15%, to 29,926.94. The S&P 500 lost 1.02% to 3,744.52, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.68% to 11,073.31. The three stock benchmarks opened the session lower. All of the major averages are on pace to end the week more than 4% higher for their best week since June 24.

Energy was the best performing sector, gaining 1.8%. Utilities lagged, falling 3.3%.

The benchmark 10-year rate surpassed 3.8%. The 2-year yield, which is more sensitive to monetary policy changes, topped 4.2%.

Investors are anxiously awaiting the Friday jobs report, which will show how the labor market fared in September, giving the central bank another piece of information about its rate-hike campaign. Economists polled by Dow Jones expect the report will show that payrolls increased by 275,000 and that the unemployment rate remained at 3.7%. A surprise to the upside could raise concerns that the Federal Reserve will take a tougher line on inflation.

On Wednesday, data from ADP showed that the labor market remained strong among private companies in September, when businesses added 208,000 jobs, beating Wall Street estimates. But on Thursday, jobless claims were higher than expected, signaling there may be some labor market weakness.

"Once again, investors are looking for bad news to be good news," Chris Senyek of Wolfe Research wrote in a Thursday note, adding that even if the September report is lower than expected, wage growth will likely hold up and make a pivot from the Federal Reserve unlikely.

"While stocks are currently prone to big upside rips, we strongly believe that our intermediate-term bearish base case remains intact," he added.

Wall Street started the week on a high note, with the S&P 500 staging its biggest two-day rally since 2020. Stocks fought to keep the winning streak going Wednesday but ultimately fell short. The Dow closed about 42 points lower, or 0.14%. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite slid 0.20% and 0.25%, respectively.

Lea la cobertura del mercado de hoy en español aquí.

Stocks end the day lower, Dow closes down almost 350 points

Stocks fell for a second day Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 347.40 points, or 1.2%, to 29,926.47. The S&P 500 fell 1% to 3,744.40, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.7% to 11,073.31.

All of the major averages are on pace to end the week more than 4% higher.

— Tanaya Macheel

Pot stocks jump after White House announces marijuana pardons

Cannabis stocks surged in afternoon trading after the White House announced that President Joe Biden will pardon all federal offenses of simple marijuana possession.

Shares of Tilray Brands gained 21%, while Canopy Growth jumped more than 11%. Both stocks still trade under $4 per share, so the moves are still small in dollar terms. Stocks with low prices can be more volatile than larger and more established equities.

Biden's move by itself does not change the business outlook for corporatized marijuana in the United States, but it could be a signal that the federal government is moving closer to some form of legalization. The President instructed the HHS Secretary and Attorney General to begin reviewing marijuana's legal status.

—Jesse Pound, Christina Wilkie

Goldman Sachs recommends Meta Platforms heading into earnings season

Goldman Sachs views Meta Platforms as a key digital advertising stock heading into earnings season and sees a promising opportunity for the stock at its current price.

"In terms of stock recommendations, we see the widest disconnect in terms of risk/reward skew in META shares from current levels – we see a renewed focus inside the company on moderating opex investments and a relatively balanced approach to better revenue growth in forward periods as headwinds around macroeconomic volatility, pandemic re-opening, Apple privacy headwinds and short-form video mix shift begin to moderate," wrote analyst Eric Sheridan in a note to clients Wednesday.

With a $200 price target on the stock, Goldman expects shares to rally as much as 44% from Monday's close price.

— Samantha Subin

Stock losses deepen in afternoon trading

Stocks deepened their losses Thursday afternoon, falling to their lows of the session just before 3:00 p.m. ET. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped about 400 points. The S&P 500 slid 1% and the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.7%.

The real estate and utilities sectors were the biggest laggards.

The move lower in equities coincided with a bigger upward move in yields.

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— Tanaya Macheel

Banks likely to report solid 3Q results when JPMorgan kicks off earnings next week, analysts say

Big U.S. banks are likely to report good third-quarter results next week, setting up the group for a potential stock rebound, according to a trio of new analyst reports out Thursday.

Bank earnings season is scheduled to start Oct. 14, with four of the six biggest U.S. banks reporting results that morning. The analyst community expects good core results from the group, thanks in part to higher interest rates via the Federal Reserve's inflation-fighting campaign.

"We think Q3 results will be solid, with strong [net interest income] trends, stable fees, and favorable credit trends," Baird analysts led by David George said. "Despite a generally healthy fundamental backdrop, sentiment has become more negative for banks in recent weeks, providing a favorable trading opportunity in the group."

Banks have gotten a boost from rising rates, but that hasn't been enough to outweigh concerns that the Fed's actions will inadvertently trigger an economic slowdown, ultimately leading to greater loan losses for the industry. That has helped keep bank shares down this year; the KBW Bank Index has lost more than 25% so far.

While Credit Suisse analysts say that they were "confident in the strength of banking fundamentals" at the cusp of earnings season, there is still the "macro and market-related" risks weighing on the stocks.

Investors can take advantage of the fear embedded in these stocks if bank management gives assurances on their ability to navigate choppy markets, with around 30% total return potential in shares of JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

"From a fundamental perspective, banks remain well positioned heading into 3Q22 earnings season" on good loan growth and net interest margin growth, Raymond James analysts said Thursday.

Still, analysts led by David Long also struck a note of caution, saying that if a recession does materialize, earnings estimates could be near peak levels.

—Hugh Son

High-end iPhone demand remains strong, UBS says

Demand for Apple's higher-end Pro model is holding up nicely this year, according to UBS.

"Consistent with trends and checks since launch, the 14 Pro Max continues to experience strong demand based on availability data," wrote analyst David Vogt in a note to clients Wednesday. "Wait time for the 14 Pro Max is 35 days in the U.S. and China while wait times are 32 days across Europe and Japan."

That's compared to a 33-day average wait time in the U.S. and 39 and 32 days in China, and Europe and Japan, respectively, for the previous Pro Max model.

Despite the current macro backdrop, UBS expects total iPhone united units to fall in line with its 48 million unit estimate, or flat year over year.

— Samantha Subin

Declining stocks easily outnumber gainers

The major indexes are holding at modest losses in afternoon trading, but the selling looks a bit uglier under the surface.

Among stocks in the NYSE composite, declining stocks outnumbered gainers by 2-to-1 ratio, according to FactSet. Among S&P 500 stocks, that number was roughly 3-to-1.

Market breadth is a key metric tracked by many technical strategists to determine the true mood of the market. However, Thursday's ratios are not high enough to call a capitulation, which means the market could continue to slip heading into the weekend.

— Jesse Pound

Josh Brown says these rallies are 'all guilty until proven innocent'

Watch CNBC's 'Halftime Report' investment committee weigh in on claims of peak inflation
Watch CNBC's 'Halftime Report' investment committee weigh in on claims of peak inflation

Josh Brown does not trust the monster two-day rally we had this week.

"There are very few stocks in uptrend right now," Brown said Thursday on CNBC's "Halftime Report." "And that is why I think these rallies are all guilty until proven innocent."

While the two-day rally this week was notable, the investor does not expect that anything fundamental has changed in the market, which he believes continues to point to a downtrend.

"We're going to have these rips, but like the market gets turned away from the 200-day all the time this year. And until that changes, I don't think there's any reason that anybody should change their mind from the current psychology, and that lower high, lower low trap that we've been in really since January 3rd is still intact," he said.

Still, Brown identified the few sectors that are working for investors in a volatile market. He said investors should find names the energy sector, where a broad majority of stocks are trading above the 200-day moving average, or are in a definite uptrend.

Investors can also search out stocks in the consumer staples and health care, both of which still have names that are in an uptrend.

"It's really not a complicated market to figure out," he said.

— Sarah Min

Fed Governor Lisa Cook sees 'ongoing rate hikes' likely

Federal Reserve Governor Lisa Cook in a speech Thursday advocated a strong focus on inflation, which she said will necessitate the need for more interest rate increases.

"With inflation running well above our 2 percent longer-run goal, restoring price stability likely will require ongoing rate hikes and then keeping policy restrictive for some time until we are confident that inflation is firmly on the path toward our 2 percent goal," the central bank official said in remarks for a speech before the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

With the Fed largely expected to approve its fourth consecutive 0.75 percentage point increase at its next meeting in early November, Cook said she has supported the path of policy so far but noted that there will be a time to re-evaluate.

"At some point, as we continue to tighten monetary policy, it will become appropriate to slow the pace of increases while we assess the effects of our cumulative tightening on the economy and inflation," she said. "In any case, the path of policy should depend on how quickly we make progress toward our inflation goal."

The Fed shoots for a long-run inflation target of 2%. Its favored measure, core personal consumption expenditures prices, most recently was running at a 4.9% annual pace.

—Jeff Cox

Stocks making the biggest moves midday

These companies are making headlines midday:

  • Constellation Brands — The spirits producer slipped 2% despite posting earnings and revenue for the previous quarter that beat expectations. Constellation Brands did, however, report losses in its cannabis business and said it would divest some of its wine offerings to The Wine Group.
  • Conagra — Conagra's stock traded 3.3% lower despite a top and bottom line beat in its recent fiscal quarter. The food producer also reaffirmed its outlook for the year.
  • Silvergate Capital — Shares fell 6.1% after Wells Fargo double downgraded the crypto bank stock to underweight from overweight, citing deposit outflows because of sharply falling cryptocurrency prices.

Check out more midday movers here.

— Samantha Subin, Tanaya Macheel

JPMorgan upgrades Credit Suisse on restructuring hopes, says bank is worth at least $15 billion

A Credit Suisse logo in the window of a Credit Suisse Group AG bank branch in Zurich, Switzerland.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Embattled European bank Credit Suisse should be worth at least $15 billion after a restructuring that turns it into more of a pure-play wealth manager, JPMorgan Chase analysts said Thursday in a note.

JPMorgan analysts led by Kian Abouhossein upgraded their recommendation on Credit Suisse to "neutral" from "underweight" with a December 2023 price target of CHF 6. The Zurich-based bank last closed at a total market capitalization of about $11 billion.

The bank has "more than $700 billion in private banking assets under management" that is expected to generate a 15% return on tangible equity in 2024, Abouhossein said in his note. "We see $15bn as minimum value today for CSG, in line with our estimated value of the Swiss legal entity."

The path to get there, however, may involve "material share price volatility, uncertainty on strategy, and execution risk" as Credit Suisse is expected to disclose its restructuring plan by Oct. 27, the analyst said.

In either of two possible scenarios charted out by the research team, Credit Suisse should be bolstered by the minimum value of its European wealth management operations, according to Abouhossein.

Although other analysts have said that the bank may need to raise as much as CHF 6 billion to pull off its restructuring, the JPMorgan team said that a large raise "is not a given" if the bank exits enough capital-hungry businesses.

—Hugh Son

Energy the only sector trading higher Thursday

The S&P 500 energy sector outperformed Thursday, rising about 0.8% to build on its already strong gain for the week. Energy was also the only sector trading higher on the day, as traders braced for Friday's jobs report.

—Fred Imbert

Mizuho: Electric vehicle makers see price targets cut, but still have substantial upsides

Electric vehicle makers Tesla and NIO had their price targets cut by Mizuho as deliveries for the quarter came in below expectations.

Tesla deliveries were up about 42% compared to the same period a year ago, but still came in 5.6% below expectations, which the company attributed to logistics challenges. The price target was cut about 5.8% to $370 from $391.67, implying a smaller, yet still substantial, upside of 34.9% from the stock's last closing price.

China-based NIO also saw deliveries about 4.7% below expectations while being up 42% compared to the same quarter in 2021. The stock had its price target cut 4.8% to $40 from $42, though that still offers a 60% upside.

NIO is down about 7% in day trading, while Tesla is down 1.5%.

— Alex Harring, Michael Bloom

Cowen reiterates overweight rating for Netflix ahead of third-quarter results

Cowen reiterated an overweight rating on Netflix ahead of its third-quarter earnings results this month, saying the streaming company remains "the most popular living room TV option."

Analyst John Blackledge expects the stock can surge roughly 37% to the firm's $325 price target. Netflix closed Wednesday at $236.73. The stock is up nearly 1% during Thursday's trading session.

The analyst expects that Netflix will have added 1 million paying subscribers, and that investors will be seeking greater clarity into the streaming company's plans to roll out its ad tier and to stamp out password sharing.

Netflix remains the top streaming option for viewers, according to a Cowen survey, despite rising competition and macro challenges that have hurt the stock this year.

"We asked password-sharing survey respondents whether they would pay an additional fee to keep using NFLX. In total, ~51% would pay for NFLX to maintain access to the service, underscoring the opportunity as NFLX prepares to roll out a paid sharing solution," the note read.

— Sarah Min

Electric utility stocks, cell tower REITs slip to 52-week lows

Twenty stocks in the S&P 500 notched fresh 52-week lows as the overall market declined a second day.

Utilities were among the notable losers, and the sector was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, dropping 2.3%. Cell tower REITs also dropped sharply.

  • Ameren (AEE) trading at lows not seen since Jul, 2021 (Electric Utility)
  • Duke Energy (DUK) trading at lows not seen since Mar, 2021 (Electric Utility)
  • Dominion Energy (D) trading at lows not seen since Mar, 2020 (Downgrade by Seaport Global from Buy to Neutral, Price target cut at Mizuho) (Electric Utility)
  • CMS Energy (CMS) trading at lows not seen since Mar, 2021 (Raised to Buy from Neutral at Seaport Global) (Electric Utility)
  • Evergy (EVRG) trading at lows not seen since Mar, 2021 (Electric Utility)
  • Alliant Energy (LNT) trading at lows not seen since Mar, 2021 (Electric Utility)
  • Eversource Energy (ES) trading at lows not seen since Mar, 2021 (Electric Utility)
  • Pinnacle West (PNW) trading at lows not seen since Mar, 2020 (Electric Utility)
  • Welltower (WELL) trading at lows not seen since Feb, 2021 (REIT)
  • Equity Residential (EQR) trading at lows not seen since Jan, 2021 (REIT)
  • Essex Property Trust (ESS) trading at lows not seen since Mar, 2021 (REIT)
  • AvalonBay (AVB) trading at lows not seen since Mar, 2021 (REIT)
  • Boston Properties (BXP) trading at lows not seen since Nov, 2020 (REIT)
  • UDR (UDR) trading at lows not seen since Feb, 2021 (REIT)
  • SBA Communications (SBAC) trading at lows not seen since Apr, 2021 (Cell tower REIT)
  • American Tower (AMT) trading at lows not seen since Mar, 2021 (Cell tower REIT)
  • Crown Castle (CCI) trading at lows not seen since Apr, 2020 (Cell tower REIT)
  • Digital Realty Trust (DLR) trading at lows not seen since Dec, 2016 (REIT)
  • Tyson (TSN) trading at lows not seen since Feb, 2021
  • Lumen Technologies (LUMN) trading at lows not seen since July, 1991

Three S&P 500 names managed to notch fresh 52-week highs. PG&E, Lamb Weston, and Nielsen.

-Darla Mercado, Gina Francolla

Mortgage rates decline slightly

Interest rates on home loans have inched downward, according to Freddie Mac. A 30-year fixed rate mortgage is now averaging 6.66%, down from 6.70%. Just a year ago, rates on these loans averaged 2.99%.

A 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is now averaging 5.90%, compared to last week's rate of 5.96%. Last year, rates on these loans averaged 2.23%.

Mortgage rates have been on a steady upward march since the Federal Reserve has kicked off its policy-tightening regime to combat inflation – including sharply boosting interest rates. Higher interest expenses on home loans have helped cool housing prices as of late.

-Darla Mercado

Fed's Kashkari says interest rate hike pause is 'quite a ways away'

Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari said the central bank isn't close to the point where it will stop raising interest rates to beat back inflation.

"Until I see some evidence that underlying inflation has solidly peaked and is hopefully headed back down, I'm not ready to declare a pause. I think we're quite a ways away from a pause," he said Thursday during a Q&A session.

Kashkari didn't specify how far he thinks the Fed has to go. Estimates in September from the Federal Open Market Committee, of which Kashkari is an alternate member this year, point to another 1.5 percentage points of rate hikes into 2023.

Pushing rates higher is likely to mean business failures from areas where risk was excessive, Kashkari conceded. But he added that shouldn't deter the Fed in its quest to pull inflation back down to 2%.

By the Fed's preferred measure of personal consumption expenditures prices excluding food and energy, inflation ran at a 4.9% annual rate in August.

"To me, the bar to actually shifting our stance is very high," he said.

Kashkari's comments echo sentiments expressed Wednesday by Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, who said the central bank probably is in the "early days" of its fight against inflation.

—Jeff Cox

Energy prices stage a big comeback with SPDR ETF on pace for best week since late 2020

Energy prices have rebounded big time lately, starting in anticipation of the OPEC+ agreement Wednesday to cut production.

The Energy Select Sector SPDR is ahead 11.5% week-to-date and on pace for its single best weekly performance since November 2020, when it surged more than 17%.

Some individual stock moves have been even more outsized. Marathon Oil is up almost 20% this week, Halliburton has climbed almost 19% and APA (formerly Apache Oil) is ahead 18.5%.

Prices are uniformly higher across the complex. November heating oil futures are up 8% week-to-date and November gasoline is ahead by almost 7.2%. Natural gas was below $6.40 per million BTUs Monday and is above $7.00 Thursday.

— Scott Schnipper and Gina Francolla

Tesla added to Deutsche's top investments list

Tesla is among stocks considered a top investment over the next 12 months by Deutsche Bank.

The tech stock was among 10 additions for the new quarter due to what the bank sees as a "pivotal" upcoming year. The electric vehicle maker is poised to see upward revisions to expectations as it grows sales and breaks into new categories such as cybertrucks and semis. Meanwhile, Tesla stands to benefit from the Inflation Reduction Act's electric vehicle credits and simmering headwinds.

"We view Tesla as one of most attractive stories in the autos sector thanks to its pricing power, superior cost structure, strong execution, and having secured supply and now establishing more meaningful capacity to support considerable growth," the bank said.

Other additions include Restaurant Brands International, Prologis and Eaton.

— Alex Harring, Michael Bloom

Jobless claims rose more than expected last week

Weekly jobless claims rose more than expected last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Initial filings for unemployment benefits totaled 219,000 for the week ended Oct. 1, up 29,000 from the week before and higher than the 203,000 estimate. The downwardly revised 190,000 from the previous week was the lowest level since April 23.

Continuing claims, which run a week behind the headline number, edged higher to 1.36 million.

Treasury yields moved lower while stock market futures trimmed losses following the release.

—Jeff Cox

This week’s recovery has further to go, says Credit Suisse

Stocks appeared to take a breather in the previous session, with the major averages trading firmly in the red for much of the day. They rallied in the final hour of trade but ultimately failed to hold onto any of their sharp gains from earlier in the week. Credit Suisse says the recovery isn't over yet though.

"[The] S&P 500 has held support from the price gap from Wednesday morning and although our broader outlook stays negative we continue to look for a deeper but still corrective rally to emerge prior to this broader downtrend resuming."

Oversold conditions made the two-day rally unsurprising to some. Credit Suisse sees the next resistance levels for the S&P at 3,807, 3,828 and then 3,867. On the way down, the index could find support at 3,753 initially. A move below 3,678 would suggest the rally is over, the firm said in a note Thursday.

The S&P 500 closed at 3,783.28 on Wednesday.

— Tanaya Macheel