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US markets end lower on Thursday

The US markets ended lower on Thursday as the US imposed tariffs on $16 billion of Chinese goods on top of the $34 billion in Chinese imports already targeted. By the end of September, it could add levies on another $200 billion-about half of all Chinese imports. Meanwhile, investors focused on the commencement of a closely watched gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell set to speak on Friday. Besides, the issues have accelerated whispers about impeachment, and Trump said that the stock market would crash in such a scenario. So far, however, there has been little to no equity impact from the political turbulence.

On the economic front, a report released by the Labor Department showed a modest decrease in first-time claims for US unemployment benefits in the week ended August 18. The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 210,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 212,000. Street had expected jobless claims to inch up to 215,000. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department released a separate report showing an unexpected decrease in new home sales in the month of July. The report said new home sales dropped by 1.7% to an annual rate of 627,000 in July after tumbling by 2.4% to a revised rate of 638,000 in June. Street had expected new home sales to climb by 2.2%.  Besides, IHS Markit US manufacturing PMI hit the lowest level in 9 months, with a reading of 54.3 in August from 55.3 in the prior month, while IHS US flash services PMI dropped to 55.2 in August from 56. A reading of at least 50 indicates improving conditions.

Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 76.62 points or 0.30 percent to 25656.98, the S&P 500 dropped 4.84 points or 0.17 percent to 2856.98 and Nasdaq was down by 10.64 points or 0.13 percent to 7878.46.

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