– This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on March 3, Friday.
Welcome to CNBC Business Daily, I'm Qian Chen.
U.S. equities closed lower on Thursday as financials lagged.
"It's only normal. We're at record levels and at some point, it's natural to see some profit taking," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial.
Also rising have been expectations for a Federal Reserve rate hike this month, amid a combination of strong economic data and hawkish rhetoric from several key officials.
Fed Governor Jerome Powell said Thursday that "the case for a rate increase for March has come together."
[POWELL=MARCH INCREASE] "The economy has behaved pretty much as we expected. In the meantime the balance of risks which has been to the downside in recent years has really shifted to being even in perhaps slipped it the upside because of the possibility indeed the likelihood of some fiscal action. So you put all that together and I think the case for a rate increase in March has come together and I do think it's on the table for discussion."
Market expectations for a March rate hike were around 80 percent, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.
In economic news, initial U.S. jobless claims totaled 223,000, well below the expected 243,000.
Meanwhile, gold fell on Thursday as the dollar gained after comments from U.S. Federal Reserve officials raised expectations of an interest rate hike in March.
Now, all eyes are on Fed President Yellen's speech on Friday, looking for more hints about a March hike.
CNBC's Qian Chen, reporting from Singapore.