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Major Averages Climb Off Worst Levels But Remain In The Red - U.S. Commentary


After an early move to the downside, stocks have climbed off their worst levels of the day but continue to see modest weakness in afternoon trading on Tuesday. The major averages are offsetting the modest gains posted in the previous session.

In recent trading, the major averages have moved roughly sideways, stuck in negative territory. The Dow is down 55.51 points or 0.2 percent at 23,384.19, the Nasdaq is down 20.47 points or 0.3 percent at 6,737.13 and the S&P 500 is down 6.47 points or 0.3 percent at 2,578.37.

Lingering uncertainty about the outlook for the Republican tax reform proposal is weighing on the markets as the House prepares to vote on their bill later this week.

The House bill has significant differences from the Senate version, raising concerns about whether GOP lawmakers will be able to work together to combine the legislation.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, delayed the release of his modified version of the Senate tax reform bill.

On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing producer prices increased by more than anticipated in the month of October.

The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand climbed by 0.4 percent in October, matching the increase seen in September. Economists had expected prices to inch up by 0.1 percent.

Excluding food and energy prices, core producer prices also rose by 0.4 percent in October after a matching increase in the previous month. Core prices had been expected to rise by 0.2 percent.

Energy stocks have shown a significant move to the downside on the day amid a steep drop by the price of crude oil. Crude for December delivery is tumbling $1.38 to $55.38 a barrel.

Reflecting the weakness in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index and the NYSE Arca Natural gas Index are both down by 2.6 percent.

Substantial weakness is also visible among steel stocks, as reflected by the 2.8 percent loss being posted by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. With the drop, the index has fallen to its lowest intraday level in well over two months.

Biotechnology and chemical stocks are also seeing notable weakness, while most of the other major sectors are showing more modest moves on the day.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index closed just below the unchanged line, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dipped by 0.1 percent.

The major European markets also moved lower on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged down by less than a tenth of a percent percent, the German DAX Index fell by 0.3 percent and the French CAC 40 Index slumped by 0.5 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved to the upside after ending the previous session roughly flat. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.8 basis points at 2.382 percent.

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