Stock Market Today: Stocks Close Lower Ahead of Key Debt Ceiling Vote

The major benchmarks spent most of Wednesday in the red as the House prepares to vote on the debt ceiling deal this evening.

person pointing to blue stock market chart on screen
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stocks closed lower Wednesday as investors took some profits off the table ahead of a key debt ceiling deal vote. Disappointing jobs data and a massive dividend cut from Advance Auto Parts (AAP) didn't help sentiment, either. 

The debt ceiling agreement struck between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the White House over the weekend cleared a key vote last night in the House Rules Committee, and will undergo a floor vote in the full House of Representatives this evening. 

"Members from both parties say they expect the legislation to pass both chambers of Congress prior to the June 5 date," says José Torres, senior economist at Interactive Brokers. "That date has been targeted as the day when the U.S. could begin defaulting on its debt and failing to meet other financial commitments." Still, there are lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who have expressed opposition to the deal, which sparked anxiety across Wall Street today.   

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Job openings come in hot

Another source of worry for markets today was the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), which came in stronger than forecast. Specifically, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the number of job openings rose to 10.1 million in April from 9.7 million in March – their highest level in three months – while layoffs fell to 1.6 million from 1.8 million. 

"Not only did today’s job openings number come in much stronger than expected at 10.1 million, last month's number was revised higher," says Mike Loewengart, head of model portfolio construction at Morgan Stanley. "Friday's jobs report may tell a different tale, but this is just one more sign the labor market is still hot and raises the pressure on the Fed to raise interest rates further this year."

Despite the strong JOLTS reading, Fed funds futures are currently pricing in a roughly 73% chance the central bank will pause on interest rate hikes at its upcoming meeting, up from 33% on Tuesday.

Advance Auto Parts slashes dividend

In single-stock news, Advance Auto Parts spiraled 35.0% after the auto parts retailer reported first-quarter earnings of 72 cents per share, well below estimates for earnings of $2.26 per share. Revenue of $3.4 billion also fell short. What's more, AAP lowered its full-year guidance and slashed its quarterly dividend by 83% to 25 cents per share.

As for the major indexes, the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.6% to 12,935, the S&P 500 shed 0.6% to 4,179, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave back 0.4% to 32,908. 

More stock market gains expected through year's end

For all of May, the Nasdaq (+5.8%) and the S&P 500 (0.3%) finished higher, while the Dow closed down 3.5%. This echoes a trend we've seen all year, with the Nasdaq outperforming the other two indexes amid strength in a handful of large-cap tech and communication services stocks – namely Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Nvidia (NVDA), Alphabet (GOOGL), (AMZN) and Meta Platforms (META). In fact, Adam Turnquist, chief technical strategist, and Jeffrey Buchbinder, chief equity strategist, for LPL Financial, say that without these six stocks, the S&P 500 would be lower for the year-to-date vs up about 9%.

The strategists admit the lack of widespread participation in this year's broad market rally is concerning, but point to several bright spots, including the fact that roughly half of communication services, tech and consumer discretionary stocks are trading above their 200-day moving averages. That momentum will likely push the market higher through the end of the year. Moving forward, the pair say they prefer large caps over small-cap stocks, and have industrial stocks as a top sector pick 

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Karee Venema
Contributing Editor,

With over a decade of experience writing about the stock market, Karee Venema is an investing editor and options expert at She joined the publication in April 2021 after 10 years of working as an investing writer and columnist at Schaeffer's Investment Research. In her previous role, Karee focused primarily on options trading, as well as technical, fundamental and sentiment analysis.