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Stocks Remain Under Pressure In Mid-Day Trading - U.S. Commentary


After coming under pressure early in the session, stocks continue to see notable weakness in mid-day trading on Thursday. The pullback on the day comes after the major averages ended the previous session modestly higher.

In recent trading, the Dow and the S&P 500 have fallen to new lows for the session. The Dow is down 179.42 points or 0.8 percent at 23,383.94, the Nasdaq is down 67.09 points or 1 percent at 6,722.03 and the S&P 500 is down 19.00 points or 0.7 percent at 2,575.38.

Profit taking may be contributing to the weakness on Wall Street after the uptick seen on Wednesday lifted the major averages to new record closing highs.

Uncertainty about the outlook for the Republican tax reform plan is also weighing on the markets along with rising tensions in the Middle East.

After several quiet days on the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department also released a report showing a bigger than expected increase in initial jobless claims in the week ended November 4th.

The report said initial jobless claims climbed to 239,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 229,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge up to 231,000.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed wholesale inventories rose by 0.3 percent in September, matching economist estimates.

Traders are also keeping an eye on developments overseas, as President Donald Trump continues his trip to Asia with a visit to China.

Trump complained of unfair trade practices by China during a speech in Beijing but said he did not blame the communist country.

"After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens?" Trump said. "I give China great credit."

Trump instead put the blame on previous presidents and pledged to work hard to make the relationship between the U.S. and China fair and reciprocal.

"Trade between China and the United States has not been, over the last many, many years, a very fair one for us," Trump said. "We must immediately address the unfair trade practices that drive this deficit, along with barriers to market success."

Sector News

Networking stocks are seeing substantial weakness in mid-day trading, with the NYSE Arca Networking Index slumping by 1.9 percent. The index is pulling back off its best closing level in almost a month.

Infinera (INFN) is leading the networking sector lower after the communications equipment maker reported a third quarter loss compared to a year ago profit, although the loss was narrower than expected.

Significant weakness is also visible among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 1.9 percent loss being posted by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index. The drop by the index comes after it ended the previous session at its best closing level in over seventeen years.

Software, internet, and biotechnology stocks are also seeing considerable weakness, contributing to the notable decline by the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

On the other hand, natural gas stocks have shown a strong move to the upside, driving the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index up by 1.5 percent. The index reached a three-month intraday high earlier in the day.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index dipped by 0.2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced by 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.6 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index slumped by 1.2 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have climbed back near the unchanged line after seeing early weakness. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by less than a basis point at 2.328 percent.

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