After coming under pressure early in the session, stocks have seen further downside over the course of the trading day on Friday. The major averages have all moved firmly into negative territory after ending the previous session on opposite sides of the unchanged line.
Currently, the major averages are lingering near their worst levels of the day. The Dow is down 173.21 points or 0.5 percent at 34,578.11, the Nasdaq is down 156.01 points or 1 percent at 15,025.91 and the S&P 500 is down 33.40 points or 0.8 percent at 4,440.35.
The weakness on Wall Street comes as traders look ahead to the Federal Reserve’s highly anticipated monetary policy meeting next week.
The Fed is widely expected to leave monetary policy unchanged but could address the outlook for its asset purchase program.
The minutes of the Fed’s last meeting signaled the central bank was prepared to begin scaling back asset purchases by the end of the year.
With some recent disappointing economic data suggesting the Fed could push back its plans, traders are likely to pay close attention to the wording of the post-meeting statement.
Stocks saw some further downside following the release of a report from the University of Michigan showing U.S. consumer sentiment rebounded less than expected in September.
The report said the consumer sentiment index inched up by 71.0 in September from 70.3 in August. Economists had expected the index to rise to 72.2.
The modest increase came after the consumer sentiment index tumbled to its lowest level since December of 2011 in the previous month.
“The steep August falloff in consumer sentiment ended in early September, but the small gain still meant that consumers expected the least favorable economic prospects in more than a decade,” said Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin.
Steel stocks continue to see substantial weakness in mid-day trading, with the NYSE Arca Steel Index plunging by 3.9 percent to its lowest intraday level in almost five months.
U.S. Steel (X) is leading the way lower, plummeted by 7.4 percent after updating its third quarter guidance and announcing plans to spend about $3 billion to build a new mill.
Considerable weakness also remains visible among chemical stocks, as reflected by the 1.9 percent drop by the S&P Chemical Sector Index. The index hit a nearly two-month intraday low earlier in the session.
Oil service, computer hardware, and semiconductor stocks are also seeing significant weakness, moving lower along with most of the other major sectors.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index climbed by 0.6 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped by 1 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside over the course of the session. While the French CAC 40 Index slid by 0.8 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slumped by 1 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries are moving lower for the third consecutive session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 4.1 basis points at 1.372 percent.
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