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Stocks Seeing Modest Weakness In Early Trading - U.S. Commentary

Stocks are seeing modest weakness in early trading on Thursday, extending the downward move seen over the course of the two previous sessions. The major averages have all slid into negative territory, although selling pressure remains subdued.

The major averages have bounced off their lows for the young session and currently posting modest losses. The Dow is down 33.72 points or 0.3 percent at 13,041.03, the Nasdaq is down 2.11 points or 0.1 percent at 3,065.98 and the S&P 500 is down 2.56 points or 0.2 percent at 1,396.40.

While lingering concerns about the global economy and a lack of further stimulus from the Federal Reserve have generated some negative sentiment, an upbeat employment report has helped to limit the downside for the markets.

The Labor Department released a report a report before the start of trading showing a modest drop in initial jobless claims in the week ended March 31st, with claims falling to a nearly four-year low.

The report showed that jobless claims fell to 357,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 363,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge up to 360,000 from the 359,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the unexpected decrease, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since coming in at 352,000 in the week ended April 19, 2008.

Nonetheless, many traders are looking ahead to tomorrow's monthly employment report from the Labor Department, which is expected to show an increase of about 201,000 jobs in March.

Since the U.S. stock markets will be closed for Good Friday, some traders are likely to make bets on the strength of the report during trading today.

Most of the major sectors are showing relatively modest moves in early trading, although considerable weakness is visible among networking stocks. Polycom (PLCM) is leading the networking sector lower after providing disappointing first quarter guidance.

Electronic storage, telecom, and utilities are seeing more moderate weakness, while some strength is visible among steel and chemical stocks.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.5 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended the day down by 1 percent.

The major European markets are also seeing weakness on the day but have climbed well off their worst levels. While the German DAX Index is down by 0.7 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index are down by 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries hare shown a notable move to the upside on the day. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 4.6 basis points at 2.197 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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