U.S. stocks tallied steep declines Thursday after a report had economic confidence in the euro area sliding to a three-year low and Japan's retail sales fell in July. Strategist also said investors could be setting themselves up for a fall ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech Friday in Jackson Hole, Wyo. "There are a lot of expectations built into his talk," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 67 points to 13,039. The S&P 500 index lost 7 points to 1,403. The Nasdaq Composite index dropped 17 points to 3,068. A quiet morning once again ahead of the Fed Chairman's speech tomorrow. The retail sector is making news this morning with same store monthly sales. Gap is gaping up 2.5% thanks to strong sales. Kohls and Pier One are also higher by 2% on strong sales. Zales is jumping 6% on earnings and an upgrade. Amazon is higher on news they are sold out of their Kindle Fire. The consumer discretionary sector in general is lower along with the broader market. In the tech sector, Pandora is higher by 17% thanks to better than expected earnings. VMware is lower on an upgrade. KLA Tencor is lower by 2% on a downgrade. IBM is modestly higher, but the other blue chips are modestly lower. Through the first hour the averages remained weak making new lows down 100 points in the Dow. The Nasdaq fell 27 points. Part of the selloff is due to a rally in the US dollar and weakness in the Euro. In the healthcare space, Cigna is higher on earnings and an upgrade. UnitedHealth Group is modestly higher on an upgrade. MAKO Surgical is lower by 3% on a downgrade after a surge higher yesterday following earnings. During the lunch hour the Dow fell 125 points before slowly rebounding. The weakest sectors are the techs, materials, and industrials. In the afternoon the averages kept slowly improving. In the last hour the averages pulled back toward the lows of the day ahead of the Fed Chairman's Jackson Hole speech tomorrow. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 106 points at 13,000. The S&P 500 index lost 11 points to 1,399, its first finish under 1,400 in four weeks. The Nasdaq Composite declined 32 points, or 1.1%, at 3,048.
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