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Major equity indexes in the U.S. started the day sharply lower on Thursday as investors assessed the disappointing retail sales data. As of writing, the Do Jones Industrial Average was down 0.75% on the day while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were down 0.65% and 0.4%, respectively.

The U.S. Census Bureau today reported that retail sales declined by 1.2% on a monthly basis in December to miss the analysts’ expectation for a 0.2% growth by a wide margin. Retail sales excluding automobiles  declined by 1.8% in the same period. Both consumer staples and consumer discretionary sectors reacted negatively to the data and were losing around 1% in the early trade.

Reflecting the risk-off mood, the CBOE Volatility Index, Wall Street’s fear gauge, rose nearly 10%. With T-bonds finding demand amid flight-to-safety, their yields fell sharply in the early NA session and weighed on the trade-sensitive S&P 500 Financials Index, which was last down 1.5% on a daily basis. On the other hand, the S&P 500 Technology Index is the only major sector in the positive territory with a modest 0.15% gain.