Stocks ended the week lower as mounting oil prices and the potential policy movements by major central banks in the coming weeks added to market uncertainty. It was a short trading week in the US with markets closed on Monday to mark Labour Day.
Falls in tech giant Apple’s stocks helped lead markets lower following reports that China had prohibited government officials from using iPhones in a bid to limit the use of foreign technology. Although these restrictions weren’t publicly announced by the government, concerns emerged that Apple might become entangled in geopolitical tensions between the US and China, as both countries shore up their technology and cybersecurity.
Also, in the US the ISM report for August 2023 surprised with a jump in services sector activity and new orders growing at a faster pace. Weekly jobless claims were lower-than-expected, signalling continued strength in labour demand despite the increase in the unemployment rate from 3.5% to 3.8% in August 2023. Given the close scrutiny of the labour market and strength of the economy by policymakers, any indications of deceleration or weakening will be carefully observed to inform their decision on policy.