The S&P 500 index shed 0.1% last week as investors began the new month and quarter on a cautious note amid weaker-than-expected private-sector job gains for March, but gains led by utilities and health care helped minimize the overall drop.
The slight decline came as ADP’s monthly measure of private payrolls showed a 145,000 increase in March, well below expectations compiled by Bloomberg for an increase of 210,000 and weighing on forecasts for March employment data set to be released Friday morning by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Because the market was closed on Friday, investors won’t be able to react to the March data until Monday morning. Due to that delay, investors were trading more cautiously last week ahead of the data.
The sectors were divided. Industrials led to the downside with a 3.4% drop, followed by a 3.0% decline in consumer discretionary and a 1.3% drop in materials. Other sectors in the red included technology, real estate and financials.
On the upside, however, utilities and health care climbed 3.1% each, followed by a 3.0% increase in energy. Communication services and consumer staples also rose.
This week, Q1 earnings reports will start kicking off. A number of heavyweight companies are expected to release results on Friday, including UnitedHealth Group (UNH), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC) and BlackRock (BLK).
Economic data expected next week will start with February wholesale inventories on Monday, followed by key inflation readings on Tuesday (the March consumer price index) and Wednesday (the March producer price index). The week’s data will conclude with March retail sales and import prices as well as April consumer sentiment on Friday.
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