US stocks closed lower Wednesday as investors kept a watchful eye on the prospects for the debt-limit deal in an expected House floor vote. Meanwhile, strong US jobs data and China’s economic woes pressured global markets.
US bond yields weakened as investors fretted over the potential impact of the debt-limit deal and reviewed the release of fresh jobs data. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury dropped to 3.62%. The two-year note yields, which are more rate sensitive, slipped to 4.3%, while that on the 30-year bond dropped to 3.84%.
Equities lost steam as the Labor Department reported the number of job openings rose to over 10.1 million, up from economists' expectations of 9.4 million openings.
The figures underscore "the tightness in the labor market is unlikely to fall off a cliff but rather continue downward on a bumpy path," Oxford Economics wrote in a note on Wednesday. "While there are some concerns over the veracity of the JOLTS survey due to historically low response rates, the upshot remains that labor market strength remains robust."
In light of recent economic data, markets are pricing in an increase of 25 basis points in interest rates from the Fed at policymakers' meeting on June 13-14. On the commodities side, the dollar index rose, while crude oil slid below $70 a barrel.
Still, investors are still very keen on the latest developments in Washington. The debt ceiling agreement negotiated by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy passed its first key test on Tuesday when it gained approval from the Republican-led House Rules Committee despite opposition from hard-liners. That cleared the way for the deal to go before the House on Wednesday.
The clock is ticking down, as Congress must race to pass the deal to avoid a catastrophic default by June 5. That so-called X-Date is when the US will run out of money to pay its bills, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned.
Meanwhile, both Federal Reserve Governor Philip Jefferson and Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Patrick Harker signaled Wednesday that the central bank could pause rate hikes at its next policy meeting. Separately, the economy showed signs of cooling as hiring and inflation slowing, the Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book survey of regional business contacts.
Elsewhere, China’s factory activity slumped to its weakest level for a second straight month, another sign its post-pandemic economic recovery is losing steam. Asian markets tumbled after the release of the data.
On the housing front, mortgage demand dropped to its lowest level since March, while refinancing activity also dampened to another low, the MBA data showed Wednesday.
Meanwhile, in corporate news, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company (HPE) sank more than 7% after the company posted a revenue miss in its second quarter earnings and slashed its full-year sales guidance.
Still, the run-up in stocks linked to AI was losing momentum, after the buzz around the technology helped boosted the Nasdaq 100 Index (^NDX) on Tuesday. Shares of ChargePoint Holdings, Inc. (CHPT) was flat, while C3.ai, Inc. (AI) dipped more than 8% Wednesday.
In single-stock moves, SoFi Technologies, Inc. (SOFI) shares rallied more than 15% in the wake of the debt ceiling deal. The bill would reinstate government student loan repayments, benefiting the online personal finance company.
Intel Corporation (INTC) shares rose more than 4% after the chipmaker said current quarter revenue is on track to be at the high end of its guidance.
Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @daniromerotv