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Major Averages Posting Modest Losses In Afternoon Trading - U.S. Commentary

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Stocks have fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Tuesday but largely maintained a negative bias following an initial move to the downside. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 have been bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

Currently, the major averages are posting modest losses. The Dow is down 55.14 points or 0.2 percent at 24,585.10, the Nasdaq is down 24.89 points or 0.3 percent at 7,056.96 and the S&P 500 is down 4.24 points or 0.2 percent at 2,669.21.

The initial pullback on Wall Street reflected renewed skepticism about a trade deal between the U.S. and China following President Donald Trump's comments in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

In the interview published Monday, Trump told the Journal it was "highly unlikely" he would delay an increase in tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent.

Trump also suggested the U.S. could slap 10 percent tariffs on iPhones and laptops imported from China, contributing to an early sell-off by shares of Apple (AAPL).

The comments from Trump come just days before he is due to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a G20 summit in Argentina later this week.

Trump has previously argued his tough talk on trade has actually helped the U.S. to make deals, including the new trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

On the U.S. economic front, the Conference Board released a report showing a bigger than expected decrease in consumer confidence in the month of November.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index dropped to 135.7 in November after rising to 137.9 in October. Economists had expected the index to dip to 136.5.

The bigger than expected decrease by the consumer confidence index came after it reached its highest level since September of 2000 in the previous month.

Sector News

Steel stocks continue to turn in some of the market's worst performances in afternoon trading, extending a recent downward trend. The NYSE Arca Steel Index has slumped by 2.2 percent to its lowest intraday level in over a year.

The continued weakness among steel stocks comes amid concerns about global demand amid the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China.

Significant weakness is also visible among gold stocks, as reflected by the 2.1 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index. The drop by gold stocks comes as the price of gold for December delivery is sliding $9.50 to $1,212.90 an ounce.

Chemical, natural gas and biotechnology stocks are also seeing considerable weakness in afternoon trading, while most of the other major sectors are showing more modest moves.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Tuesday, although Chinese stocks bucked the uptrend. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index climbed by 0.6 percent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index rallied by 1 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index fell by 0.4 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index dipped by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved higher following the modest weakness seen in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 2 basis points at 3.052 percent.

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