Stocks Moving Modestly Lower In Early Trading - U.S. Commentary

Stocks have moved modestly lower in early trading on Thursday, extending the downward move seen in recent weeks. The major averages have slipped into negative territory after ending the previous session at their worst closing levels in over three months.

The major averages have seen some further downside in the past few minutes, hitting new lows for the young session. The Dow is down 38.98 points or 0.3 percent at 12,559.57, the Nasdaq is down 13.81 points or 0.5 percent at 2,860.23 and the S&P 500 is down 4.95 points or 0.4 percent at 1,319.85.

The early weakness on Wall Street likely reflects continued concerns about the financial situation in Europe, with traders keeping an eye on the latest developments in Greece.

Traders are also digesting the Labor Department's report on initial jobless claims in the week ended May 12th, which showed that claims unexpectedly came in unchanged.

The report said jobless claims came in at 370,000, unchanged from the previous week's revised figure. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 365,000 from the 367,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said, "Although another decline would have been preferred, the results weren't that bad."

Shortly, trading could be impacted by the release of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's report on regional manufacturing activity and the Conference Board's report on leading economic indicators

Banking stocks have moved to the downside in early trading, with JP Morgan (JPM) leading the sector lower. Shares of JP Morgan are down by 2.8 percent after hitting a four-month low.

While housing, airline, and biotech stocks are also seeing early weakness, gold stocks have moved sharply higher amid a rebound by the price of the precious metal.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific turned in yet another mixed performance on Thursday. While Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.9 percent on upbeat Japanese GDP data, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slipped 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have bounced off their lows but continue to see weakness on the day. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.8 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are down by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries are lingering near the unchanged line after trending higher in recent weeks. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by less than a basis point at 1.767 percent.

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