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Major Averages Turning In Mixed Performance In Mid-Day Trading - U.S. Commentary


After an early move to the upside, stocks have shown a lack of direction over the course of the trading session on Tuesday. The major averages have pulled back off their highs of the session and are currently turning in a mixed performance.

While the Nasdaq is up 10.12 points or 0.1 percent at 7,340.82, the Dow is down 118.16 points or 0.5 percent at 24,756.60 and the S&P 500 is down 3.10 points or 0.1 percent at 2,717.84.

The choppy trading on Wall Street has partly been attributed to concerns about President Donald Trump's top economic advisor Gary Cohn leaving the White House.

A report from Bloomberg News said Trump believes Cohn will resign if planned tariffs on steel and aluminum imports are implemented.

Cohn has reportedly been summoning executives from U.S. companies that depend on the metals to meet with Trump this week to try to blunt or halt the tariffs.

The strength seen earlier in the day came amid easing geopolitical concerns following reports that North Korea is willing to talk about denuclearization.

South Korea's national security director Chung Eui-yong told reporters North Korea would be willing to denuclearize if its security was guaranteed.

"North Korea made clear its willingness to denuclearize the Korean peninsula and the fact there is no reason for it to have a nuclear program if military threats against the North are resolved and its regime is secure," Chung said.

On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing a slightly bigger than expected decrease in factory orders in the month of January.

The Commerce Department said factory orders tumbled by 1.4 percent in January after jumping by an upwardly revised 1.8 percent in December.

Economists had expected factory orders to drop by 1.3 percent compared to the 1.7 percent spike originally reported for the previous month.

Sector News

Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves in mid-day trading, although considerable weakness is visible among telecom stocks.

Reflecting the weakness in the telecom sector, the NYSE Arca Telecom Index has slumped by 1.7 percent on the day.

On the other hand, gold stocks continue to see significant strength, with the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index jumping by 2.7 percent.

The strength among gold stocks comes amid a sharp increase by the price of the precious metal, as gold for April delivery is surging up $18.80 to $1,338.70 an ounce.

Computer hardware stocks are also seeing notable strength, resulting in a 1.4 percent gain by the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index. Earlier in the session, the index reached its best intraday level in a month.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved sharply higher during trading on Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index shot up by 1.8 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index soared by 2.1 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.4 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index edged up by 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved higher following the downturn seen in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.5 basis points at 2.866 percent.

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