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NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks were modestly lower early Thursday, a day after a rout prompted by worries over shifting Federal Reserve policy.

Led by the tech-rich Nasdaq, equities had plunged Wednesday afternoon following minutes from the most recent Fed meeting that suggested a faster than expected tightening of monetary policy.

The market's reaction underscored lingering investor fears despite several stock market records in recent sessions.

"With the policy rate at the zero bound and the inflation rate at a 40-year high, the Fed is definitely behind the curve in fighting inflation," said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare.

"The sticking point is the uncertainty over just how fast the Fed will feel compelled to run to catch up."

Wall Street opens cautiously ahead of Fed minutes

About 25 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.3 percent at 36,292.51.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.2 percent to 4,682.66, while the Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.3 percent to 15,058.00.

Data released Thursday pointed to a modest increase in weekly jobless claims and a jump in the trade deficit.

Investors are looking ahead to Friday's monthly government jobs report, expected to show the US economy added 440,000 jobs and that unemployment dipped to 4.1 percent.

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