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Wall Street kicks off second-half with losses on slowdown worries

Wall Street started the second half of the year on a dull note on Friday as investors worried over the risks to economic growth from the Federal Reserve’s resolve to curb rising prices at all costs.

As the U.S. central bank moves away from easy money by raising borrowing costs, investors for much of the year have been selling equities, pushing the benchmark S&P 500 to close out its worst first six months since 1970 on Thursday.

“People are hoping we have a better second half but the proof is going to be in the numbers and the first thing they are going to look for is how bad are earnings going to be,” said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading.

There was more evidence on Friday that rising interest rates was hurting demand in the world’s largest economy. Data showed a measure of new orders shrank for the first time in two years and manufacturing activity slowed more than expected in June.

Despite signs of slowing growth, Fed policymakers have been making a case for a second 75-basis points interest rate hike in July, leaving investors to worry about the potential hit to company profits in the upcoming quarterly reporting season.

“The real question on investors’ minds is if we’re getting slower economic data, will that necessarily translate to some of the Q2 earnings reports?” said Chad Oviatt, director of investment management at Huntington Private Bank.

Markets saw a turbulent first-half as fears over big interest rate hikes, geopolitical uncertainty, prolonged supply-chain snarls and lockdowns in China weighed on sentiment.

In the previous session, all three indexes posted their second straight quarterly declines. The Dow suffered its biggest first-half percentage plunge since 1962 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq recorded its worst-ever first six months.

Shares of market leaders such as Amazon.com Inc and Tesla Inc, edged higher on Friday, providing the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

At 12:09 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 124.63 points, or 0.40%, at 30,650.80, the S&P 500 was down 14.30 points, or 0.38%, at 3,771.08, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 56.61 points, or 0.51%, at 10,972.13.

Trading volume is likely to be light heading into a long weekend with markets closed on Monday for July 4 holiday.

Micron Technology Inc dropped 5.5% as the memory-chip firm predicted quarterly revenue below market expectations, triggering concerns the chip sector was turning toward a down cycle.

The broader Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index fell 4.8%.

Facebook-owner Meta Platforms Inc slipped 3.2%. The company has cut plans to hire engineers by at least 30% this year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees, warning them to brace for a deep economic downturn.

Kohl’s Corp tumbled 20.2% as the department store chain called off its sale to Vitamin Shoppe-owner Franchise Group.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.02-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.13-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded one new 52-week highs and 48 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded eight new highs and 183 new lows.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Amruta Khandekar and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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