Nasdaq Moves Sharply Lower Amid Continued Weakness On Wall Street

Stocks have moved mostly lower in morning trading on Thursday, extending the pullback seen over the two previous session sessions. The tech-heavy Nasdaq has shown a significant move to the downside on the day.

Currently, the Nasdaq is down 181.40 points or 1.3 percent at 13,691.07. The S&P 500 is also down 29.73 points or 0.7 percent at 4,435.75, while the Dow is posting a more modest loss, down 42.68 points or 0.1 percent at 34,400.51.

The continued weakness on Wall Street partly reflects ongoing concerns about the outlook for interest rates following recent economic data.

A report released by the Institute for Supply Management on Wednesday unexpectedly showed faster service sector growth as well as an acceleration in price growth in the sector.

Adding to the interest rate concerns, the Labor Department released a report this morning showing an unexpected decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended September 2nd.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 216,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 229,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 234,000 from the 228,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Jobless claims decreased for the fourth consecutive week, falling to their lowest level since a matching figure in the week ended February 11th.

“The claims data are a reminder that labor market conditions may be cooling, but the labor market is still tight,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.

She added, “The claims figures don’t change our view for the Fed to keep policy steady at its meeting later this month, but more moderation in job growth will be needed to keep rate hikes permanently off the table.”

While the Fed is still widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged at its next meeting later this month, CME Group’s FedWatch Tool indicates a 44.6 percent chance of another rate hike in November.

A steep drop by shares of Apple (AAPL) is weighing on the Nasdaq, with the tech giant tumbling by 3.8 percent on the day.

The slump by Apple comes after a report from Bloomberg News said China plans to expand a ban on the use of iPhones in sensitive departments to government-backed agencies and state companies.

Sector News

Computer hardware stocks have shown a substantial move to the downside on the day, resulting in a 3.2 percent nosedive by the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index.

Significant weakness has also emerged among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 2.6 percent slump by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index.

Steel stocks are also seeing considerable weakness following weak Chinese trade data, dragging the NYSE Arca Steel Index down by 2.1 percent.

Networking, airline and banking stocks have also shown notable moves to the downside, while some strength is visible among pharmaceutical stocks.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 0.8 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index dove by 1.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a mixed performance on the day. While the German DAX Index is down by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is just above the unchanged line and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.2 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have shown a lack of direction over the course of the morning. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by less than a basis point at 4.286 percent.

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