After ending the previous session modestly lower, stocks have show a lack of direction in early trading on Wednesday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a slightly lower open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by just 9 points.
Traders may be reluctant to make significant moves amid lingering geopolitical uncertainty as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The looming Good Friday holiday may also contribute to light trading activity, as some traders are already away from their desks.
On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing an unexpected decline in import prices in the month of March.
The Labor Department said import prices dipped by 0.2 percent in March after climbing by a revised 0.4 percent in February.
The decrease came as a surprise to economists, who had expected import prices to inch up by 0.1 percent compared to the 0.2 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.
Meanwhile, the report said export prices rose by 0.2 percent in March following a 0.3 percent increase in February. Export prices had been expected to tick up by 0.1 percent.
After coming under pressure early in the session on Tuesday, stocks regained some ground but remained mostly in negative territory. The pullback on the day came on the heels of the modest uptick seen on Monday.
The major averages ended the day modestly lower but well off their worst levels of the day. The Dow edged down 6.72 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 20,651.30, the Nasdaq dipped 14.15 points or 0.2 percent to 5,866.77 and the S&P 500 slipped 3.38 points or 0.1 percent to 2,353.78.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced by 0.9 percent.
The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has edged down by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index is just above the unchanged line and the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.1 percent.
In commodities trading, crude oil futures are rising $0.26 to $53.66 a barrel after climbing $0.32 to $53.40 a barrel on Tuesday. Gold futures, which jumped $20.30 to $1,274.20 an ounce in the previous session, are advancing $3.90 to $1,278.10 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 109.56 yen compared to the 109.62 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Tuesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.060 compared to yesterday's $1.0605.
by RTTNews Staff Writer
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