US STOCKS-Wall Street closes rollercoaster week sharply lower


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    * Nasdaq leads losses as technology majors sink
    * S&P 500 ends below 50-day moving average
    * Triple options expiry causes late session volume spike
    * Indexes post weekly losses
    * Indexes down: Dow 0.48%, S&P 0.91%, Nasdaq 0.91%

 (Updates with closing prices)
    By Stephen Culp
    NEW YORK, Sept 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks ended sharply
lower in a broad sell-off on Friday, ending a week buffeted by
strong economic data, corporate tax hike worries, the Delta
COVID variant, and possible shifts in the U.S. Federal Reserve's
timeline for tapering asset purchases.
    All three major U.S. stock indexes lost ground, with the
Nasdaq Composite Index's  .IXIC  weighed down as rising U.S.
Treasury yields pressured market-leading growth stocks.*:nL1N2QJ1HP
    They also posted weekly losses, with the S&P index  .SPX 
suffering its biggest two-week drop since February.
    "The market is struggling with prospects for tighter fiscal
policy due to tax increases, and tighter monetary policy due to
Fed tapering," said David Carter, chief investment officer at
Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York.
    "Equity markets are also a little softer due to today's weak
Consumer Sentiment data," Carter added. "It's triggering
concerns that the Delta variant could slow economic growth."
    A potential hike in corporate taxes could eat into earnings
also weigh on markets, with leading Democrats seeking to raise
the top tax rate on corporations to 26.5% from the current 21%.
    While consumer sentiment steadied this month it remains
depressed, according to a University of Michigan report, as
Americans postpone purchases while inflation remains high.*:nL1N2QJ18C
    Inflation is likely to be a major issue next week, when the
Federal Open Markets Committee holds its two-day monetary policy
meeting. Market participants will be watching closely for
changes in nuance which could signal a shift in the Fed's
tapering timeline.
    "It has been a week of mixed economic data and we are
focused clearly on what will come out of the Fed meeting next
week," said Bill Northey, senior investment director at U.S.
Bank Wealth Management in Helena, Montana.
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI  fell 166.44 points,
or 0.48%, to 34,584.88; the S&P 500  .SPX  lost 40.76 points, or
0.91%, at 4,432.99; and the Nasdaq Composite  .IXIC  dropped
137.96 points, or 0.91%, to 15,043.97.
    The S&P 500 ended below its 50-day moving average, which in
recent history has proven a rather sturdy support level.
    Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, all but healthcare
 .SPXHC  ended in the red, with materials  .SPLRCM  and
utilities  .SPLRCU  suffering the biggest percentage drops.
    COVID vaccine manufacturers Pfizer Inc  PFE.N  and Moderna
Inc  MRNA.O  dropped 1.3% and 2.4%, respectively, as U.S. health
officials moved the debate over booster doses to a panel of
independent experts.*:nL1N2QJ0OV
    U.S. Steel Corp  X.N  shed 8.0% after it unveiled a $3
billion mini-mill investment plan.*:nL4N2QJ2J3
    Robinhood Markets Inc  HOOD.O  rose 1.0% after Cathie Wood's
ARK Invest bought $14.7 million worth of shares in the trading
    Volume and volatility spiked toward the end of the session
due to "triple witching," which is the quarterly, simultaneous
expiration of stock options, stock index futures, and stock
index options contracts.
    Volume on U.S. exchanges was 15.51 billion shares, compared
with the 9.70 billion average over the last 20 trading days.    
    Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a
1.97-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.00-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
    The S&P 500 posted seven new 52-week highs and two new lows;
the Nasdaq Composite recorded 67 new highs and 82 new lows.  


S&P 500 flirts with 50-day moving average
 (Reporting by Stephen Culp; Additional reporting by Krystal Hu
in New York and Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard
 ((; 646-223-6076;))

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