Friday, September 17, 2021 – U.S. stocks are lower in early trading Friday as Wall Street continues to cautiously trudge through the seasonally weak month of September. Volatility and trading volume could increase later in the session amid a “triple witching,” a quarterly event during which options and futures simultaneously expire. The Dow is falling 100 points, but still poised for a 0.2% weekly advance. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite are each losing 0.5%, with both benchmarks turning lower for the week. A confluence of factors are still clouding the near-term outlook for economic growth and providing downside pressure to U.S. equities.

On the data front, a preliminary September reading on consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan showed a modest improvement to 71.0 from August’s near decade-low of 70.3. Treasuries are declining, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note up three basis points to 1.37%. In commodities, WTI crude is down 1.1% to $71.83/barrel but still heading for a fourth consecutive weekly gain (+3%). COMEX gold is losing 0.3% to $1748.80/ounce amid a stronger U.S. dollar.

Ten of 11 S&P 500 sectors are trading in negative territory. The Materials group is leading laggards as miners grapple with this week’s 20% slump in iron ore prices. In corporate news, shares of investment management firm Invesco are up 5.5% on rumors of a possible merger with State Street’s asset management arm. Elsewhere, Take-Two Interactive is slipping 1.2% on the heels of an analyst downgrade. Breadth is negative on issues by 5:3 on the NYSE and 6:4 on the Nasdaq.

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