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Modest Weakness Remains Visible On Wall Street - U.S. Commentary


Stocks continue to see modest weakness in mid-day trading on Friday, although selling pressure remains relatively subdued. With the drop on the day, the Dow is pulling back off the record closing high set in the previous session.

Currently, the Dow is down 60.68 points or 0.3 percent at 20,559.09 and the S&P 500 is down 4.98 points or 0.2 percent at 2,342.24. However, the Nasdaq has crept up by 1.18 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 5,816.08.

Profit taking has contributed to the modest weakness on Wall Street, with traders cashing in on the recent strength in the markets.

Nonetheless, trading activity is somewhat subdued as traders look to get a head start on the long Presidents Day weekend.

On the U.S. economic front, the Conference Board released a report showing a bigger than expected increase by its index of leading U.S. economic indicators in the month of January.

The Conference Board said its leading economic index climbed by 0.6 percent in January after rising by 0.5 percent in December. Economists had expected the index to increase by 0.4 percent.

Among individual stocks, shares of Nu Skin (NUS) have come under pressure after the company reported weaker than expected fourth quarter results and offered disappointing guidance.

Hertz Global (HTZ) is also posting a notable loss after Credit Suisse downgraded its rating on the car rental company's stock to Underperform from Neutral.

On the other hand, shares of TrueCar (TRUE) are sharply higher after the car buying website operator reported a narrower than expected fourth quarter loss and provided upbeat guidance.

Sector News

Gold stocks have shown a significant move to the downside on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index down by 2 percent.

The weakness among gold stocks comes amid a modest decrease by the price of the precious metal, with gold for April delivery sliding $2.20 to $1,239.40 an ounce.

Notable weakness has also emerged among airline stocks, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index sliding by 1.2 percent. SkyWest (SKYW) and Hawaiian Airlines parent Hawaiian Holdings (HA) are turning in two of the sector's worst performances.

Tobacco, telecom, and energy stocks are also seeing some weakness in mid-day trading, while most of the other major sectors are showing more modest moves.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index slid by 0.6 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell by 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index closed nearly unchanged and the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.7 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are extending the rebound seen over the course of the previous session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 3.2 basis points at 2.418 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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