By Abhiram Nandakumar
(Reuters) – The Dow Jones industrial average shed nearly 300 points as crude prices headed for their third straight weekly loss, & stock & index options contracts expired.
The Dow & the S&P 500 were on track for their worst two-day run since Nov. 1, & the Nasdaq since mid-November, almost erasing gains from the three-day rally up to the Federal Reserve's interest rate hike on Wednesday.
p>Volatility was slightly higher than usual on account of "quadruple witching" – the expiry of options on stocks & indexes as well as futures on indexes & single stocks.
"I look at it as purely a sentiment-driven market. There's no new news that's any kind of substance that's driving this," said Jeff Powell, managing partner of Polaris Wealth Advisors in California.
Global markets fell on Friday, with investors turning wary approximately the impact of a stronger dollar & weakening commodity prices on the global economy.
The dollar index <.DXY>, however, shed some of its post-Federal Reserve rate hike gains, after the Bank of Japan reorganized its stimulus program.
At 13:03 p.m. ET (1603 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 282.1 points, or 1.61 percent, at 17,213.74, the S&P 500 <.SPX> was down 27.15 points, or 1.33 percent, at 2,014.74 & the Nasdaq Composite index <.IXIC> was down 61.89 points, or 1.24 percent, at 4,940.67. All 10 major S&P sectors were lower, led by the financials sector's <.SPSY> 1.73 percent fall. Goldman Sachs <GS.N> was down 2.8 percent, while Citigroup <C.N>, Morgan Stanley <MS.N> & JP Morgan <JPM.N> were down approximately 2 percent.
Boeing's <BA.N> 3.7 percent fall weighed the most on the Dow, while Apple <AAPL.O> weighed on the S&P & Nasdaq with a 1.5 percent decline.
Disney <DIS.N> was down 2.9 percent at $108.79, after BTIG downgraded the stock to sell.
Merck shares <MRK.N> were down 1.1 percent at $52.10 after it said a European Commission decision on one of its key drugs was delayed.
Among the bright spots, Darden Restaurants <DRI.N> was up 7.2 percent at $62.64 after the Olive Garden restaurant chain owner raised its full-year profit forecast.
Carnival Corp <CCL.N> shares were up 4.8 percent at $52.89, after its quarterly results.
Centene <CNC.N> was up 4.5 percent at $64.67 after it raised its 2015 profit forecast.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,977 to 1,031. On the Nasdaq, 1,765 issues fell & 970 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed one new 52-week high & 28 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 18 new highs & 91 new lows.
(Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar & Aastha Agnihotri in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)
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