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US markets closed lower on Friday

The US markets closed lower on Friday, to register another unsightly week of losses as low volumes and skittish investors left Wall Street especially vulnerable to pullbacks. Stocks shifted between gains and losses as President Donald Trump's strategist Stephen Bannon departed the White House, following the prior day's selloff fueled by a terrorist attack in Barcelona and rumors that Trump's economic adviser Gary Cohn might resign. On the economy front, Americans were almost as optimistic about the economy in August as they were at the start of the year, when President Donald Trump took office, according to a closely watched consumer-sentiment survey. The University of Michigan's sentiment index climbed to 97.6 in August from 93.4 in July, sitting just below a 98.5 reading in January that marked a 13-year high. The Michigan survey, for instance, found a notable increase in the number of people who said their own financial well-being had improved. An index that measures current conditions slipped to 111 from 113.4. A gauge that looks out six months rose to 89 from 80.5, however, also marking the highest level since January.

Meanwhile, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said that financial markets are warning of weakness in the US economy, so the Federal Reserve should be very patient and judicious as it considers whether to raise interest rates. Kaplan underscored his concerns about a series of weak inflation readings, saying he wants to see evidence that it would rebound in the medium term before he could support another rate hike. The Fed's preferred inflation measure is 1.5 percent, below a 2-percent target. Kaplan added that he doesn't need to see that we're going to meet that target in the near-term. I just want to see evidence, or belief, that we're going to meet that target in the medium term. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said that the Federal Reserve will take into consideration the state of government efforts to raise the federal debt limit in deciding when to start winding down the central bank's large bond portfolio.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 76.22 points or 0.35 percent to 21,674.51, the Nasdaq lost 5.38 points or 0.09 percent to 6,216.53, while the S&P 500 edged lower by 4.46 points or 0.18 percent to 2,425.55.  

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