A trader works on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York on August 20, 2021.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters
US stock futures remained stable in overnight trading on Wednesday as investors remained cautious in the remaining months of trading.
Dow futures fell just 9 points. S&P 500 futures were unchanged and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 0.07%.
Shares in sports retailer Lululemon rose 10% and furniture retailer RH rose 3% in after-hours trading on better-than-expected gains. Lululemon also offered a stronger than forecast outlook for the third quarter and year.
Boston Beer, meanwhile, was down 9% after withdrawing its earnings forecast amid slowing growth for its Hard Seltzer brand.
On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 fell for the third day in a row. The Dow lost 68 points and the S&P 500 lost 0.13%.
The Nasdaq Composite was the relative underperformer, down 0.6% as Facebook, Apple, Netflix and Google parent Alphabet closed lower. The Nasdaq fell for the first session of five after hitting a record close on Tuesday.
The labor market dysfunction amid the Covid-19 pandemic was compounded on Wednesday when the Department of Labor's survey of job vacancies and labor turnover showed that there were more than 2 million more than unemployed vacancies in July.
The report – which the Federal Reserve is closely monitoring for signs of a job shortage – showed that job vacancies rose to 10.9 million in July, well above the 9.9 million FactSet estimates and 10.2 million in June.
"Higher wages and one-time bonuses were the tools used by many companies to lure those on the sidelines, but that was clearly not enough," said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer, Bleakley Advisory Group. "We shall of course see what September brings with the return to school and the end of the additional unemployment benefit, but what is clear … is a great need for more workers."
Investors will be on the lookout for the latest weekly unemployment claims data, released Thursday morning, for a closer look at the employment picture. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected 335,000 Americans to register as unemployed last week, compared with 340,000 the previous week.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve said in its latest Beige Book that US companies are experiencing rising inflation, compounded by a shortage of goods, and likely to be passed on to consumers in many areas.
The Fed also reported that growth "slowed slightly to a moderate pace" over the July-August period covered by the report, amid mounting public health concerns.
"The slowdown in economic activity was largely due to a decline in restaurants, travel and tourism in most counties, reflecting safety concerns from the rise of the Delta variant and, in some cases, international travel restrictions," the report said.
The release of the Beige Book comes as the Fed debates whether to withdraw some of its simple guidelines. In particular, officials are considering reducing monthly bond purchases likely before the end of the year.
“The lack of market reaction today shows that many of these concerns are factored in, but a larger market decline that could come this fall due to either discontinuation announcements or other potentially unexpected news should provide an opportunity to divide positions in the areas Enter travel, leisure and hospitality as recovery will most likely be delayed and not completely stopped, "said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer of the Independent Advisor Alliance.