U.S. Stocks Move Sharply Lower As Traders Look Ahead To Jackson Hole Symposium

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Stocks have moved sharply lower in morning trading on Friday, more than offsetting the modestly higher close seen in the previous session. The major averages have all moved to the downside, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading the pullback.

In recent trading, the major averages have fallen to new lows for the session. The Nasdaq is down 222.12 points or 1.7 percent at 12,743.23, the S&P 500 is down 47.88 points or 1.1 percent at 4,235.86 and the Dow is down 271.06 points or 0.8 percent at 33,727.98.

The weakness on Wall Street comes as traders look to cash in on recent strength in the markets, which has lifted the major averages well off their June lows to their best levels in almost four months.

Traders may be moving money out of stocks amid caution ahead of next week's economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Remarks by Federal Reserve officials at the annual symposium are likely to be in focus, as traders look for additional clues about the pace of future rate hikes.

Recent comments from some Fed officials have indicated the central bank will continue to raise interest rates aggressively at its next meeting in September.

The sell-off on Wall Street may be exaggerated by low volume as traders stick to the sidelines ahead of the Jackson Hole symposium as well as next week's reports on durable goods orders, new home sales, and personal income and spending.

The personal income and spending report due next Friday is likely to attract particular attention, as it includes a reading on inflation said to be preferred by the Fed.

Airline stocks are turning in some of the market's worst performances in morning trading, resulting in a 3.5 percent nosedive by the NYSE Arca Airline Index.

Substantial weakness has also emerged among steel stocks, as reflected by the 2.9 percent slump by the NYSE Arca Steel Index.

Semiconductor stocks are also seeing considerable weakness on the day, dragging the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index down by 2.2 percent.

Applied Materials (AMAT) is posting a notable loss despite reporting better than expected fiscal third quarter results and providing upbeat guidance.

Oil service, financial and computer hardware stocks have also come under pressure amid broad based weakness on Wall Street.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Friday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index inched up by 0.1 percent, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged marginally lower and China's Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.6 percent.

The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.7 percent and the German DAX Index is down by 0.9 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved sharply lower after ending the previous session slightly higher. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 8.7 basis points at 2.967 percent.

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