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Geopolitical Concerns Lead To Weakness On Wall Street - U.S. Commentary

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Stocks have moved mostly lower in morning trading on Wednesday, adding to the modest losses posted in the previous session. The Dow and the S&P 500 are pulling back further off the record closing highs set on Monday.

The major averages have climbed off their lows of the session but remain in negative territory. The Dow is down 61.31 points or 0.3 percent at 22,024.03, the Nasdaq is down 30.87 points or 0.5 percent at 6,339.59 and the S&P 500 is down 5.90 points or 0.2 percent at 2,469.02.

The continued weakness on Wall Street reflects geopolitical concerns amid a continued increase in tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.

The lower close on Tuesday came on the heels of remarks by President Donald Trump warning North Korea against making further threats.

Trump told reporters further threats from North Korea would be "met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before."

North Korea seemed unfazed by the president's bluster, however, as state media carried a statement indicating the communist nation is "carefully examining" a plan to strike the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.

The back-and-forth came on the heels of reports the U.S. intelligence community has determined North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles.

A notable decline by Disney (DIS) is weighing on the Dow, with the entertainment giant slumping by 4.6 percent on the day.

The drop by Disney comes after the company reported fiscal third quarter earnings that came in above estimates but on weaker than expected revenues.

On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing labor productivity increased by slightly more than expected in the second quarter.

The report said labor productivity climbed by 0.9 percent in the second quarter after inching up by a revised 0.1 percent in the first quarter. Economists had expected productivity to increase by 0.7 percent.

The Labor Department also said unit labor costs rose by 0.6 percent in the second quarter following an upwardly revised 5.4 percent spike in the first quarter.

Unit labor costs had been expected to climb by 1.2 percent compared to the 2.2 percent jump that had been reported for the previous quarter.

A majority of the major sectors have moved lower on the day, although most are showing relatively modest moves to the downside.

Brokerage stocks are among the few groups seeing notable weakness, with the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index down by 1 percent.

Networking, semiconductor, and internet stocks are also seeing some weakness, while gold stocks are moving notably higher amid a jump by the price of the precious metal.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index tumbled by 1.3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell by 0.4 percent.

The major European markets have also shown notable moves to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has fallen by 0.6 percent, the German DAX Index is down by 1.1 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is down by 1.5 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved sharply higher due to their appeal as a safe haven amid geopolitical tensions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 5.8 basis points at 2.225 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

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