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Major Averages Adding To Yesterday's Steep Losses

wallstreet july25 19jan23 lt

After coming under pressure early in the session, stocks are seeing continued weakness in afternoon trading on Thursday. With the decrease on the day, the major averages are adding to the steep losses posted in the previous session.

Currently, the major averages are off their worst levels of the day but still firmly negative. The Dow is down 210.13 points or 0.6 percent at 33,086.83, the Nasdaq is down 109.26 points or 1.0 percent at 10,847.75 and the S&P 500 is down 28.99 points or 0.7 percent at 3,899.87.

Concerns about the economic outlook continue to weigh on the markets following yesterday's disappointing retail sales and industrial production data.

Traders also remain concerned about the outlook for interest rates amid worries the Federal Reserve will continue aggressively raising rates despite signs of a slowdown in inflation.

While the Fed is widely expected to further slow the pace of rate hikes to 25 basis points at its next meeting, traders are expressing some uncertainty about the possibility of further rate hikes.

On the economic front, a report released by the Labor Department unexpectedly showed a decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended January 14th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell to 190,000, a decrease of 15,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 205,000. The dip surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to rise to 214,000.

"While initial jobless claims continue to be noisy due to seasonal adjustment factors, the unexpected drop in the latest week is a frustrating reminder for the Fed that the labor market remains tight as employers hold onto workers," said Matthew Martin, US Economist at Oxford Economics.

He added, "Our forecast assumes one more 25bps rate hike at the conclusion of the upcoming FOMC meeting, but we see risks as skewed toward additional rate hikes."

The Commerce Department also released a report showing new residential construction in U.S. fell for the fourth straight month in December, although the decrease was much smaller than expected.

The report said housing starts slumped by 1.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.382 million in December after tumbling by 1.8 percent to a revised rate of 1.401 million in November.

Economists had expected housing starts to plunge by 4.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.359 million from the 1.427 million originally reported for the previous month.

The Commerce Department said building permits also dove by 1.6 percent to an annual rate of 1.330 million in December after plummeting by 10.6 percent to a revised rate of 1.351 million in December.

Building permits, an indicator of future housing demand, were expected to jump by 2.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.370 million from the 1.342 million originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia released a report showing regional manufacturing activity has contracted at a slower rate in the month of January.

Sector News

Semiconductor stocks continue to see substantial weakness in afternoon trading, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index tumbling by 2.5 percent.

Considerable weakness also remains visible among computer hardware stocks, as reflected by the 2.1 percent slump by the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index.

Housing stocks have also shown a significant move to the downside, dragging the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index down by 2.0 percent.

Retail, brokerage and networking stocks are also seeing notable weakness, while gold stocks are bucking the downtrend amid an increase by the price of the precious metal.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index tumbled by 1.4 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index rose by 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slumped by 1.1 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index plunged by 1.7 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries are giving back ground after moving sharply higher in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 4.4 basis points at 3.419 percent.

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