The US auto workers union ordered simultaneous strikes at three factories of the "Big Three" car manufacturers for the first time ever
New York (AFP) - Wall Street indices retreated Friday as recent enthusiasm for tech stocks waned and a historic strike took place in the US auto sector.
But forecast-busting Chinese economic data sent Asian and European stock markets higher.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq ended the day 1.6 percent lower, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 also declined.
This came as traders assessed the impact of a strike by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union at three major auto manufacturers, after pay talks broke down.
“This is not a surprise to the market given the tenor of remarks leading up to the deadline, but that doesn’t mean it is a good thing for the economy,” said Patrick O’Hare, market analyst at Briefing.com.
“It will become less of a good thing the longer it persists given the reach and importance of auto manufacturing supply chains,” he added.
The strike at plants belonging to Ford, General Motors (GM) and Stellantis involves about 12,700 workers but the union – which represents some 150,000 workers at the three companies – warned that action could spread if demands are not met.
President Joe Biden, who has cast himself as a trade unions supporter, gave his backing to the strikers saying he understood their “frustration.” He added that workers had not been able to benefit from enormous corporate profits.
Investors are also gearing up for the US Federal Reserve’s upcoming interest rate decision due Wednesday, after the European Central Bank signaled this week that its own rate-hike campaign may be over.
Data released Friday showed US industrial production continued expanding in August, beating expectations even though the pace of increase slowed due to sluggish manufacturing growth.
The figures give the Fed added information as it weighs the need for further rate hikes.
But traders and analysts expect the US central bank to hold rates steady so policymakers have more time to assess the health of the world’s largest economy.
- ‘Upbeat mood’ -
Sentiment was more positive among traders in Asia and Europe after data showed Chinese retail sales and industrial production jumped more than expected last month.
The figures were the latest suggesting the world’s number two economy could be stabilizing after months of sluggishness, with inflation, trade and services all showing improvement in recent weeks.
The Paris CAC 40 index led the way in Europe, closing nearly one percent higher.
Tokyo closed up more than one percent, helped by a rally in the tech investor SoftBank following the successful initial public offering of the British chip designer Arm, which it acquired in 2016.
In the United States, Arm saw its shares slip 4.5 percent on its second day of trading.
Equities were “building on strong gains in yesterday’s session after the European Central Bank signaled its hiking cycle is over,” Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Finalto, told AFP.
The Chinese data also “helped secure the upbeat mood,” Wilson said.
- Key figures around 2100 GMT -
New York - Dow: DOWN 0.8 percent at 34,618.24 points (close)
New York - S&P 500: DOWN 1.2 percent at 4,450.32 (close)
New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 1.6 percent at 13,708.33 (close)
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 7,711.38 (close)
Frankfurt - DAX: UP 0.6 percent at 15,893.53 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.0 percent at 7,378.82 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 percent at 4,295.05 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.1 percent at 33,533.09 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.8 percent at 18,182.89 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,117.74 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0664 from $1.0645 on Thursday
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2385 from $1.2409
Dollar/yen: UP at 147.84 yen from 147.46 yen
Euro/pound: UP at 86.08 pence from 85.73 pence
Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.2 percent at $93.93 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.7 percent at $90.77 per barrel