Wall Street retreats from records awaiting Fed news

A trader working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Aug 20, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - US shares pulled back from record levels on Thursday (Aug 26), snapping a five-day winning streak to close lower as markets await a key speech from Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell.

Traders are waiting to see if Mr Powell's comments on the annual Jackson Hole central banking symposium on Friday will reveal any details of the central bank's plans to pull back on its massive bond-buying programme.

But news of the attack near Afghanistan's Kabul airport that killed at least 12 US troops also cast a pall on the late summer trading session.

"The devastating news coming out of Afghanistan is having an effect on the psychology of investors," Mr Art Hogan of National Securities told AFP.

Traders are also leery after comments from Fed officials seeming to push for a rapid start to the tapering process, offering an incentive to take profits after this week's gains, he said.

"I think you've got a combination of those two things with a market in a precarious position, the constant bit of investor anxiety and a good reason to take some profits tomorrow," Mr Hogan said.

The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.5 per cent to finish the day at 35,213.12.

After hitting records in the previous two sessions, the broad-based S&P 500 fell 0.6 per cent to end at 4,470. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index finished with a 0.6 per cent decline to 14,945.81, snapping a three-day streak of records.

Markets digested some positive quarterly results, but that was not enough to counter the downward trend.

Among those companies with earnings that beat expectations, Dow-member Salesforce.com jumped 2.7 per cent and retailer Williams Sonoma surged 9.3 per cent, but Ulta Beauty slipped 0.3 per cent.

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