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Stocks have taken a beating this week, with major market averages looking to end in the red by about 2% as growth stocks sink.
As of 1:30 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 121 points, or 0.74%, to 16050, the S&P 500 dipped 10.9 points, or 0.59%, 1822 and the Nasdaq Composite slumped 30.1 points, or 0.74%, to 4024.
The Nasdaq took its worst beating since 2011 on Thursday, while the broader S&P 500 took its steepest fall since last year. The move has been driven by an intense rotation away from growth stocks and into defensive plays like value stocks, Treasury bonds and gold.
Indeed, the Nasdaq biotechnology index is looking to end in the red for the seventh-straight week -- the longest weekly drop since 1998.
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JPMorgan Chase (JPM) kicked off bank earnings season with a significant miss on the top and bottom lines as fixed-income and mortgage-origination income plummeted. The disappointing results from the biggest U.S. bank by assets added to the malaise across global trading desks. Wells Fargo (WFC), the No. 4 U.S. bank, is set to report later in the day.
Will Hedden, a premium client manager at London-based brokerage IG, said he sees some "panicky" moves in the markets as traders deal with the sudden bolt of volatility.
"Is this justified? The only thing I am sure of is that I am not sure," he quipped, highlighting the uncertainty over exactly what is driving investors to race away from growth names.
Traders once again took cover in safe-haven assets. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond fell 0.034 percentage point to 2.62%. Meanwhile, gold prices rose $1.20, or 0.09%, to $1,321 a troy ounce.
Elsewhere in commodities, U.S. crude oil futures fell 17 cents, or 0.16%, to $103.23 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.19% to $3.00 a gallon.
In economic news, the Labor Department said wholesale prices rose 0.5% in March, the biggest increase since June, and higher than expectations for a 0.1% advance. Excluding the food and energy components, prices rose 0.6%, wider than the 0.2% pick-up analysts expected, and the biggest rise since March 2011.
"While some Fed members are having a difficult time finding any sort of inflation, data this week point to the existence of some of it," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group.
Meanwhile, a reading on consumer sentiment from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan rose in April to 82.6, the highest level since July, from 80 the month prior. Wall Street was looking for a reading of 81.