NEW YORK, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks declined for the week as Wall Street parsed the Federal Reserve's July meeting minutes and the latest economic data.
For the week ending Friday, the Dow dipped 1.1 percent, while the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slid 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.
The S&P U.S. Listed China 50 index, which is designed to track the performance of the 50 largest Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges by total market cap, logged a weekly decrease of 8.9 percent.
The decline on Wall Street came as investors assessed the Fed's taper talk.
The Fed's meeting minutes released Wednesday showed most officials agreed to start tapering asset purchases this year, if "the economy were to evolve broadly as they anticipated."
"Various participants commented that economic and financial conditions would likely warrant a reduction in coming months," the Fed said in the minutes of its July 27-28 meeting.
But several other Fed officials indicated that a reduction in the pace of asset purchases was more likely to become appropriate early next year, according to the minutes.
The Fed has pledged to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged at the record-low level of near zero, while continuing its asset purchase program at least at the current pace of 120 billion U.S. dollars per month until "substantial further progress" has been made on employment and inflation.
"The taper talk was not really much of a surprise since the Fed had been hinting at that for months," Kevin Matras, executive vice president at Zacks Investment Research, said in a note.
"I think the market used this as the perfect excuse to pull some profits off the table after a spectacular run-up so far this year," he said.
On the economic front, U.S. retail sales sank 1.1 percent last month, the Department of Commerce reported on Tuesday. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal forecast a 0.3-percent decline.
"July retail spending disappointed, especially considering high inflation," Chris Low and Will Compernolle, economists at FHN Financial, said in a note, adding "the low preliminary August Michigan sentiment reading suggests the next retail sales should be even weaker."
The preliminary estimate of the consumer sentiment index released last week by the University of Michigan came in at 70.2 in August, down from 81.2 in July, amid concerns over a rapid spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19.
The average daily increase of cases in the United States was over 137,000 in the seven-day period ending Friday, compared with a seven-day average of around 41,500 daily cases a month ago, according to the latest data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Elsewhere, a report by the Department of Labor on Thursday showed that U.S. initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, decreased by 29,000 to 348,000 in the week ending Aug. 14, marking a fresh pandemic-era low. Enditem