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Stocks Giving Back Ground In Early Trading - U.S. Commentary

Stocks have moved mostly lower in early trading on Friday, giving back some ground after posting strong gains in the two previous sessions. The major averages have all moved to the downside but remain well off Tuesday's lows.

The major averages are currently posting moderate losses, just off their lows for the young session. The Dow is down 59.98 points or 0.5 percent at 12,926.60, the Nasdaq is down 15.65 points or 0.5 percent at 3,039.90 and the S&P 500 is down 6.13 points or 0.4 percent at 1,381.44.

The early weakness on Wall Street is partly due to some disappointing economic news from China, which has added to recent concerns about the outlook for the global economy.

Data released by the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics showed that Chinese economic growth slowed to 8.1 percent in the first quarter from 8.6 percent in the fourth quarter. Economists had expected a more modest slowdown to 8.4 percent.

Traders have also shown a negative reaction to quarterly results from JP Morgan (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC), which are moving lower despite reporting better than expected first quarter earnings.

JP Morgan reported first quarter earnings of $1.31 per share, well above analyst estimates for $1.18 per share. While the company also reported a 6 percent increase in total revenues, investment banking revenue fell by 11 percent.

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo reported first quarter earnings of $0.75 per share on revenues of $21.6 billion compared to analyst estimates for earnings of $0.73 per share on revenues of $20.4 billion.

Following the release of the results, shares of JP Morgan are down by 1.6 percent in early trading, while shares of Wells Fargo are down by 1.5 percent.

The losses by JP Morgan and Wells Fargo are contributing to notable weakness in the banking sector, with the KBW Bank Index down by 1.6 percent.

Gold stocks have also come under considerable selling pressure, dragging the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index down by 2 percent. The weakness in the sector comes amid a pullback by the price of gold.

Airline, steel, and biotechnology stocks are also seeing early weakness, although selling pressure remains relatively subdued.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved to the upside on Friday, adding to yesterday's gains. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 1.2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped by 1.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have come under pressure on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.7 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index are down by 1.6 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries are moving back to the upside after closing lower in the two previous sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 4 basis points at 2.009 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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