U.S. stocks closed sharply lower Thursday, with the selloff deepening in afternoon trade as investors monitored tumbling bank stocks and waited on a highly anticipated month jobs report to help gauge how high interest rates may be headed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.66% fell about 543 points, or 1.7%, ending near 32,254, while the S&P 500 index SPX, -1.85% shed 1.9% and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -2.05% closed down 2.1%, according to preliminary FactSet data. The S&P 500’s financial sector shed 4.1%, the most of its subsectors, after SVB Financial Group SIVB, -60.41% sold securities at a $1.8 billion loss. Investors also were waiting on an update on the labor market on Friday. “There is a lot riding on the monthly jobs report,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, in written commentary ahead of the Friday data release. While more jobs are good for the economy and workers, he said that for financial markets, “a strong report would be problematic.” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Tuesday that rates may need to be increased more than anticipated if strong economic data continues to keep inflation elevated.
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