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Stocks Remain Mostly Lower In Mid-Day Trading - U.S. Commentary

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Stocks continue to see notable weakness in mid-day trading on Friday after moving to the downside early in the session. With the drop on the day, the major averages are extending the pullback seen over the two previous sessions.

Currently, the major averages are off their worst levels but still firmly negative. The Dow is down 224.34 points or 0.9 percent at 24,945.19, the Nasdaq is down 39.38 points or 0.5 percent at 7,248.97 and the S&P 500 is down 17.58 points or 0.7 percent at 2,688.47.

The continued weakness on Wall Street comes amid lingering concerns about a potential trade deal between the U.S. and China.

Adding to the worries, a report from the Wall Street Journal said the U.S. and China don't even have a draft accord that specifies where they agree and disagree.

The report comes after President Donald Trump told reporters he will not meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a crucial March deadline.

"Not yet. Maybe. Probably too soon," Trump said when asked if he would meet with Xi in the next month or so before flatly saying, "No" when asked if the two leaders would meet before the deadline.

Tariffs on Chinese goods are currently set to jump automatically on the deadline, although Trump is expected to delay the increase as talks continue.

However, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox Business on Thursday the U.S. and China have a "pretty sizable distance to go" before reaching a trade deal.

Overall trading activity is somewhat subdued, as a lack of major U.S. economic data is keeping some traders on the sidelines.

Sector News

After leading the way lower early in the session, energy stocks continue to see considerable weakness in mid-day trading. The continue drop by energy stocks come as the price of crude oil for March delivery is slipping $0.32 to $53.32 a barrel.

Reflecting the weakness in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is down by 2.6 percent, the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index is down by 2.4 percent and the NYSE Arca Oil Index is down by 1.7 percent.

Considerable weakness has also emerged among financial stocks, with the KBW Bank Index and the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index falling by 1.4 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.

Semiconductor, retail and transportation stocks are also moving notably higher, while tobacco, networking and gold stocks have moved significantly higher.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index plummeted by 2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slipped by 0.2 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index slumped by 1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.5 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index dipped by 0.3 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are extending the upward move seen over the course of the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.6 basis points at 2.636 percent.

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