What does it mean when stocks enter a 'bear market'

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in a file

Wall Street stocks fell in volatile trading on Friday, with the Nasdaq on pace to confirm it is in a bear market, as concerns of slowing economic growth led investors to flee stocks in high-valuation sectors such as technology and communication services.

The Nasdaq Composite Index fell into bear market territory on Friday for the first time since the financial crisis, capping a rough week that saw US stocks suffer their worst week in seven years. The tech-heavy index dropped to its lowest level since August 2017. Williams' dovish comments could point to hidden concerns among some Fed policymakers, said Tim Ghriskey, the investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in NY.

The looming shutdown threat, along with Navarro's comments, overshadowed remarks from New York Fed President John Williams that the Fed was open to reassessing its views, which provided a fleeting boost to the markets.

"This is primarily just a follow-through from yesterday's selling", said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut. The Dow Industrials fell to its lowest level since October 2017 and has declined 16.3 percent from its Oct. 3 closing high.

Williams' comments come after the Fed said on Wednesday it would largely stick to its plan to keep raising interest rates, spooking investors already grappling with mounting evidence of slowing growth and triggering the slide on Wall Street. Technology shares were particularly hard hit - the so-called FANG group of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google fell by more than 2.5 percent, while Twitter tumbled by more than 6 percent, according to Bloomberg.

Earlier in the day, President Trump told reporters that there was a very good chance the government funding bill would get voted down in the Senate and added that they were ready for a "very long shutdown".

The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and 175 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded three new highs and 858 new lows.

The three indexes are already in a correction, having fallen more than 10 percent from their record closing highs. The day before, almost 3,000 stocks hit their low for the year, the most in any one day since October 2008.

At close of trading Friday, the Nasdaq finished down 21.9 percent from its August 29 record closing high, Reuters reported.

However, markets are expected to be volatile on account of "quadruple witching", as investors unwind interests in futures and options contracts prior to expiration.

Thursday's trading volume was the second-highest of the year, at 12.09 billion shares, compared with the 8.38 billion-share average over the last 20 trading days.

Helping stanch the bleeding on Friday was Nike Inc, which jumped 6.2 percent after the company's quarterly results beat Wall Street estimates on strength in North America.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.52-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 3.32-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

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