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Stocks May Move Lower Following Cohn's Resignation - U.S. Commentary

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Stocks are likely to move to the downside in early trading on Wednesday after ending the previous session higher. The major index futures are currently pointing to a lower open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by 233 points.

Lingering concerns about a potential global trade war are likely to weigh on the markets following the resignation of White House chief economic advisor Gary Cohn.

The resignation by Cohn, a free trade advocate, comes after President Donald Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

In a statement, Trump said Cohn did a "superb job in driving our agenda, helping to deliver historic tax cuts and reforms and unleashing the American economy once again."

Trump said in a post on Twitter that he would make a decision on a new chief economic advisor "soon," adding, "Many people wanting the job - will choose wisely!"

In U.S. economic news, payroll processor ADP released a report private sector employment increased by more than expected in the month of February.

ADP said employment in the private sector jumped by 235,000 jobs in February after surging up by a revised 244,000 jobs in January.

Economists had expected an increase of about 195,000 jobs compared to the addition of 234,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed the trade deficit widened by more than expected in the month of January.

The report said the trade deficit widened to $56.6 billion in January from $53.9 billion in December. The deficit had been expected to widen to $55.1 billion.

Later in the day, the Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its Beige Book, a compilation of anecdotal evidence on economic conditions in the twelve Fed districts that may shed light on the outlook for interest rates.

After failing to sustain an initial upward move, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading session on Tuesday. The major averages spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

The major averages eventually ended the day in positive territory. The Dow inched up 9.36 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 24,884.12, the Nasdaq advanced 41.30 points or 0.6 percent to 7,372.01 and the S&P 500 rose 7.18 points or 0.3 percent to 2,728.12.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index dropped by 0.8 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slumped by 1 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have turned mixed over the course of the session. While the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.2 percent and the German DAX Index is up by 0.5 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are slipping $0.21 to $62.39 a barrel after inching up $0.03 to $62.60 a barrel on Tuesday. Meanwhile, after jumping $15.30 to $1,335.20 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are falling $2.80 to $1,332.40 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 105.82 yen compared to the 106.13 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Tuesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.2416 compared to yesterday's $1.2404.

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