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Stocks Regain Ground But Remain Mostly Negative - U.S. Commentary

3/22/2012 2:20 PM ET

Stocks remain mostly negative in mid-afternoon trading on Thursday, although selling pressure has waned from earlier in the session. The major averages have climbed well off their worst levels of the day but remain stuck in the red.

While the release of disappointing economic data from China and Europe helped to drags stocks notably lower in early trading, the release of another batch of upbeat U.S. economic data has helped to limit the downside for the markets.

Nonetheless, steel stocks are seeing substantial weakness amid concerns about the outlook for global demand. Reflecting the weakness in the steel sector, the NYSE Arca Steel Index has tumbled by 3.5 percent, adding to the losses posted in the two previous sessions.

Considerable weakness also remains visible among oil service stocks, which have moved lower along with the price of crude oil. With crude for May delivery falling by more than $2 a barrel, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is down by 2.7 percent.

Railroad, housing, and gold stocks are also posting steep losses on the day amid broad based weakness in the markets. On the other hand, modest strength has emerged among computer hardware stocks.

The major averages have moved roughly sideways in recent trading, stuck well below the unchanged line. The Dow is down 68.41 points or 0.5 percent at 13,056.21, the Nasdaq is down 11.98 points or 0.4 percent at 3,063.34 and the S&P 500 is down 9.52 points or 0.7 percent at 1,393.37.

by RTT Staff Writer

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