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Stocks Remain Firmly Negative In Mid-Afternoon Trading - U.S. Commentary

Stocks continue to see significant weakness in mid-afternoon trading on Wednesday, although selling pressure has waned from earlier in the session. The major averages remain stuck firmly in negative territory after moving sharply lower over the course of the morning.

The weakness on Wall Street reflects continued disappointment with the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting, which were interpreted as a sign that the central bank is not likely to engage in any further quantitative easing.

A disappointing Spanish bond auction and a weaker than expected reading on U.S. service sector activity also generated some selling pressure, overshadowing a report from payroll processor Automatic Data Processing (ADP) showing continued job growth in the U.S. private sector.

Gold stocks continue to turn in some of the market's worst performances on the day, resulting in a 5.2 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index. The weakness in the gold sector comes as the price of the precious metal plummeted by nearly $60 an ounce.

Significant weakness is also visible among steel stocks, as reflected by the 2.7 percent loss being posted by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. The index is currently poised to end the session at its lowest closing level in almost a month.

Electronic storage, networking, and semiconductor stocks are also posting notable losses, reflecting weakness in the tech sector. Brokerage, biotech, and oil service stocks are also under pressure amid broad based weakness in the markets.

The major averages have climbed off their worst levels of the day in recent trading but continue to post steep losses. The Dow is down 142.21 points or 1.1 percent at 13,057.34, the Nasdaq is down 54.64 points or 1.8 percent at 3,058.93 and the S&P 500 is down 16.38 points or 1.2 percent at 1,397.00.

by RTT Staff Writer

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