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Stocks Continue To See Modest Weakness After Early Drop - U.S. Commentary


Stocks continue to see modest weakness in mid-day trading on Monday after moving to the downside in early trading. While selling pressure has remained relatively subdued, the major averages are stuck in negative territory.

The major averages have moved roughly sideways in recent trading, lingering modestly below the unchanged line. The Dow is down 20.72 points or 0.2 percent at 13,972.25, the Nasdaq is down 2.30 points or 0.1 percent at 3,191.57 and the S&P 500 is down 0.75 points or 0.1 percent at 1,517.18.

The modest weakness on Wall Street comes on the heels of recent strength in the markets, with the Nasdaq giving back ground after ending last Friday's trading at a twelve-year closing high. The S&P 500 is pulling back off its best closing level in over five years.

Nonetheless, traders seem somewhat reluctant to make any significant moves amid a relatively quiet day in terms of earnings and economic news.

Traders are also keeping an eye on developments in Europe, where as Eurogroup finance ministers are meeting in Brussels.

The finance ministers are expected to discuss proposed aid for Greece, the progress Greece has made in its second rescue program and plans for direct bank bailouts by the ESM.

Nonetheless, traders may remain on the sidelines ahead of the release of some key economic data later in the week, including reports on retail sales, industrial production and weekly jobless claims.

Some big-name companies are also scheduled to release their quarterly results in the coming days, such as Coca-Cola (KO), Cisco (CSCO), and General Electric (GE).

Among individual stocks, shares of AOL (AOL) are moving notably higher after RBC Capital Markets raised its rating on the web services provider to Outperform from Sector Perform. AOL is currently up by 7 percent after reaching a two-month intraday high.

Wendy's (WEN) has also moved to the upside on the day after an article in Barron's said changes to the fast food company's menu could boost its shares by as much as 40 percent.

On the other hand, shares of Caesars Entertainment (CZR) have come under pressure after spiking higher in recent sessions. The casino operator is down by 6.3 percent after setting an eight-month closing high last Friday.

Sector News

Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves in mid-day trading, although considerable weakness remains visible among gold stocks. Reflecting the weakness in the gold sector, the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index is down by 2 percent.

The losses by gold stocks come amid a notable decrease by the price of the precious metal, with gold for April delivery sliding $18 to $1,648.90 an ounce.

Healthcare provider stocks have also come under pressure after trending higher in recent weeks. The Morgan Stanley Healthcare Payor Index is down by 1.4 percent after ending last Friday's trading at a record closing high.

Healthcare provider, natural gas, and trucking stocks are seeing more moderate weakness, while some strength has emerged among railroad stocks.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, most of the stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region were closed for public holidays. However, Australia's All Ordinaries Index edged down by 0.2 percent, while Indonesia's Jakarta Composite Index rose by 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the German DAX Index dipped by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index closed just above the unchanged line and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index crept up by 0.2 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries continue to show a lack of direction amid the lack of major U.S. economic news. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by less than a basis point at 1.957 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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