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

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Stocks came under pressure in early trading on Monday, giving back ground after showing a strong move to the upside last week. The major averages have climbed off their worst levels since then but remain in negative territory.

Currently, the major averages are stuck in the red. The Dow is down 103.25 points or 0.4 percent at 26,321.74, the Nasdaq is down 13.13 points or 0.2 percent at 7,925.56 and the S&P 500 is down 4.83 points or 0.2 percent at 2,887.91.

The early weakness on Wall Street was partly due to profit taking on the heels of recent strength, which lifted the major averages to their best levels in six months.

Lingering concerns about a slowdown in the pace of global economic growth have inspired traders to cash in on the recent gains.

Traders are also being cautious ahead of the start of earnings season, with financial giants JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) due to report their quarterly results before the start of trading on Friday.

Some analysts described the Federal Reserve's decision to downwardly revise its forecast for interest rates as an effort to keep the stock markets afloat amid an expected contraction in first quarter earnings.

On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing new orders for manufactured goods fell by slightly less than expected in the month of February.

The report said factory orders dropped by 0.5 percent in February after coming in virtually unchanged in January. Economists had expected orders to slide by 0.6 percent.

Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, although some weakness is visible among biotechnology and utilities stocks.

On the other hand, oil service and gold stocks have moved to the upside amid notable increases in the prices of crude oil and gold.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Monday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index dipped by 0.2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed by 0.5 percent.

The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.1 percent and the German DAX Index is down by 0.4 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are showing a lack of direction after ending the previous session slightly higher. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by less than a basis point at 2.508 percent.

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