Early Stock Gains Fade; Strong Job Data

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks gave up most of an early gain on Wall Street after another strong signal on the job market renewed concerns that the Federal Reserve won't be able to ease up on its aggressive campaign to fight inflation.

The S&P 500 was flat after the first hour of trading, having been up 0.8% earlier.

The stumble came after the government reported that job openings were higher in November than economists had expected, another sign that the job market remains resilient. That makes the Fed's fight against inflation more difficult. The Fed releases minutes from its latest policy meeting later Wednesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 33 points, or 0.1%, to 33,109 and the Nasdaq fell 0.1%.

The Fed's benchmark lending rate stands at a range of 4.25% to 4.5%, up from close to zero following seven increases last year. It forecast that the rate will reach a range of 5% to 5.25% by the end of 2023 and it isn't calling for a rate cut before 2024.

The latest update on job openings is the first set of employment data that Wall Street will get this week. The government will release its weekly unemployment report on Thursday and its closely watched monthly employment report, for December, on Friday.