U.S. stocks were lower on Thursday after a round of disappointing labor market data clashed with the prospect of a more hawkish Federal Reserve, with rising tensions in the Korean peninsula providing additional pressure.
Private employers added 158,000 jobs in June, the ADP National Employment Report showed, coming in below the estimated gain of 185,000 and suggesting cooling in the U.S. labor market as it nears full employment.
Another set of data showed weekly jobless claims rose for the third straight week, climbing to 248,000 and topping the 243,000 expected.
While the data still indicated a tight labor market, the reports hint at a soft monthly nonfarm payrolls report on Friday, which includes hiring in both the public and private sectors.
The softer data followed minutes from the Federal Reserve’s June meeting released on Wednesday showing policymakers were increasingly split on the inflation outlook and how it might affect the pace of interest rate increases.
Those two factors helped push yields on U.S. Treasuries US10YT=RR higher and dampened the attractiveness of equities.
“More than anything you’ve had a fairly good-sized move up on the 10-year Treasury (yield) over a short period,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at The Leuthold Group in Minneapolis.
“Investors are on a very short term reacting to where yields are at this moment compared with only a week ago.”
Geopolitical tensions also weighed on sentiment, with U.S. President Donald Trump vowing on Thursday to confront North Korea “very strongly” following its latest missile test and urging nations to show Pyongyang that there would be consequences for its weapons program.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 102.13 points, or 0.48 percent, to 21,376.04, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 15.13 points, or 0.62 percent, to 2,417.41 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 39.96 points, or 0.65 percent, to 6,110.90.
Shares of Tesla (TSLA.O) dropped 5.84 percent after the luxury electric carmaker’s Model S did not receive the top score in certain tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
General Electric (GE.N) lost 3.97 percent as the worst performer on the Dow after the European Commission accused the company of providing misleading information during a merger deal.
L Brands (LB.N) plunged 13.93 percent, the worst performer on the S&P 500, after the Victoria’s Secret owner’s June sales came in below expectations.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 3.12-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.35-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
(Additional reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)