June 8, 2015 / 6:22 PM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St loses ground as investors eye September rate hike

* Nasdaq, S&P 500 touch lowest level in a month

* Apple down; biggest drag on Nasdaq, S&P

* Wall St banks expect Fed rate hike in September

* Airline stocks fall on comments from Qatar Airways

* Indexes down: Dow 0.33 pct, S&P 0.50 pct, Nasdaq 0.94 pct (Updates to mid-afternoon)

By Noel Randewich

June 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Monday afternoon, with the Nasdaq down 1 percent, as investors mulled the prospect of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates as early as September.

The declines followed three straight weeks of losses, with the Dow and S&P touching their lowest in a month.

Stronger-than-expected jobs data released on Friday for May was the latest sign of improved momentum in the economy, prompting expectations of a Fed rate hike sooner than some expected.

While the Fed is expected to raise rates this year, the timing of the move has kept the market on the edge. Most economists expect a rate hike in September, followed by another one before the end of the year, according to a Reuters poll.

"The May jobs number is pointing in the direction of a more likely interest-rate hike. The market is cringing at that idea," said Frank Davis, director of sales and trading at LEK Securities in New York.

The dollar retreated after a report - later denied - that President Barack Obama had expressed concern over its strength after a year-long rally.

At 1:57 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average fell 58.29 points, or 0.33 percent, to 17,791.17, the S&P 500 lost 10.53 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,082.3 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 47.41 points, or 0.94 percent, to 5,021.05.

Eight of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, with the technology index's 1.2 percent drop leading the losses.

Apple weighed most on the Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 indexes. It was down 1 percent to $127.42 as the iPhone maker kicked off its annual gathering of developers in San Francisco, where it was expected to unveil a new music service.

Airlines stocks fell 4.5 percent, with JetBlue slumping 6.44 percent. Qatar Airways asked the industry's largest trade group to address protectionism, hitting back against U.S. airlines campaigning to restrict competition from Gulf carriers.

Tesla rose 2.53 percent after plans for its Gigafactory got a boost from Panasonic's move to start sending its employees to the plant, with manufacturing expected to begin next year.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,078 to 897, for a 2.32-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,755 issues fell and 964 advanced for a 1.82-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The S&P 500 was posting 8 new 52-week highs and 8 new lows; the Nasdaq was recording 117 new highs and 23 new lows. (Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Savio D'Souza Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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