Dow closes lower amid worries about whether the Fed will really cut rates

Fed due to decide on rates July 31

By Anneken Tappe, CNN Business
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

(CNN) - Stocks closed lower on Monday after last week's jobs report called the market's hopes for a quick interest rate cut into question.

The Dow closed 0.4%, or 116 points lower, having spent the whole day in the red. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite finished 0.5% and 0.8% down, respectively. All three benchmarks added on to losses from last week.

The market has been expecting an interest rate cut from the Federal Reserve. But a strong jobs report indicates that Wall Street might have gotten ahead of itself.

On Friday, the jobs report showed a more upbeat picture of the employment situation in the United States than expected. Investors are hoping for a rate cut from the Fed later this month to stimulate the economy, but a solid data point like the jobs report could derail things and delay an eventual cut. Lower interest rates make it cheaper for companies to borrow and are thus bullish for stocks.

Stocks sold off in response to the data, closing lower — albeit bouncing back from their weakest points in the session.

The Fed is due to decide on rates on Wednesday, July 31. The probability of a cut remains at 100%, with a 94% chance of being lowered by 25 basis points, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

"The markets are likely to further walk back rate cut expectations after the upcoming semi-annual monetary policy report scheduled to be delivered by Chairman Powell this week," said Steven Ricchiuto, US Chief Economist at Mizuho Americas. Jerome Powell is due for his biannual testimony on Wednesday.

"Although the monetary policy report already delivered to Congress clearly states that the Fed will do what is necessary to ensure a sustained expansion, the Chairman can assure Congress that the economy currently looks healthy," said Ricchiuto. And the healthier the economy, the less it will need rate cuts.

Late Friday, President Donald Trump — who has long called for the Fed to lower rates and stimulate the economy — tweeted that "our Federal Reserve doesn't have a clue! They raised rates too soon, too often, & tightened, while others did just the opposite." Trump added that the most difficult problem for the United States "is not our competitors, it is the Federal Reserve."

Trump's mounting attacks on Fed policy and Chairman Jerome Powell have raised concerns about the central bank's independence from the government.

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