Dow drops as Wall Street ends tumultuous week on sour note

Traders work on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Major US stock indices fell on Friday (Dec 17) to end a tumultuous week of trading on a downbeat note, as markets searched for optimism amid a slew of concerning news.

Chief among traders' concerns was the Omicron variant of Covid-19 and general fears of renewed business disruptions from the pandemic as cases surge in the United States again.

Also on their minds was the Federal Reserve's decision Wednesday to accelerate the withdrawal of its pandemic stimulus measures, which would put it in a position to hike rates sooner than expected next year.

"It's been a volatile week, not only in term of price actions but the news that have been coming out," said Tom Cahill of Ventura Wealth Management, adding that "the markets are still trying to work through the scenario."

The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.5 per cent to close at 35,365.44, and the broad-based S&P 500 fell 1 per cent to end at 4,620.64.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index, which was in positive territory much of the day, ended with a 0.1 per cent lost to finish at 15,169.68.

Electric car maker Rivian fell 10.3 per cent after announcing a big quarterly loss following the market close on Thursday, and saying production might fall "a few hundred vehicles short" of the 2021 target of 1,200 cars.

JPMorgan Chase closed 2.3 per cent lower after being hit with US$200 million in fines after admitting to "widespread" recordkeeping violations including use of unapproved messaging apps and failing to preserve communications.

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