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Stocks Move Modestly Lower Despite Upbeat Retail Sales Data - U.S. Commentary


After starting the day roughly flat, stocks have moved modestly lower in early trading on Wednesday. The major averages have all slid into negative territory, with the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 adding to the slim losses posted in the previous session.

The major averages are currently posting modest losses, near their lows for the young session. The Dow is down 26.19 points or 0.2 percent at 14,423.87, the Nasdaq is down 9.00 points or 0.3 percent at 3,233.32 and the S&P 500 is down 2.72 points or 0.2 percent at 1,549.76.

The modest weakness that has emerged on Wall Street comes as some traders continue to cash in on the recent strength in the markets.

While better than expected retail sales data initially dissuaded investors from selling stocks, many traders still feel that the markets are overbought and in need of a correction.

Before the start of trading, the Commerce Department released a report showing a strong jump in retail sales in February, although the increase was due in large part to higher gas prices.

The report said retail sales surged up by 1.1 percent in February after edging up by 0.2 percent in January. Economist had been expecting sales to increase by about 0.5 percent.

The sales growth was due in large part to higher auto and gasoline sales, but retail sales still rose by 0.4 percent when excluding auto and gas sales, exceeding economist estimates.

Steel stocks have shown a notable move to the downside in early trading, dragging the NYSE Arca Steel Index down by 1.9 percent. Steel Dynamics (STLD) and AK Steel (AKS) are leading the way lower.

Considerable weakness has also emerged among gold stocks, while most of the other major sectors are showing more modest moves to the downside.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region saw considerable weakness during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.6 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index tumbled by 1.5 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index has edged down by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.4 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.9 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved modestly lower after ending the previous session firmly in positive territory. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 1.2 basis points at 2.035 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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