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Modest Weakness Remains Visible On Wall Street - U.S. Commentary


After coming under pressure early in the session, stocks have regained some ground but remain modestly lower in mid-day trading on Monday. The major averages are giving back ground following the strong upward move seen last week.

Currently, the major averages are well off their worst levels but stuck in negative territory. The Dow is down 123.58 points or 0.5 percent at 26,301.41, the Nasdaq is down 14.50 points or 0.2 percent at 7,924.19 and the S&P 500 is down 5.56 points or 0.2 percent at 2,887.18.

Profit taking contributed to the early weakness on Wall Street 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 inspired traders to cash in on the recent gains.

However, traders seem reluctant to make significant moves 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, contributing to the relatively lackluster performance by the broader markets.

Utilities and biotechnology stocks are seeing some weakness in mid-day trading, while oil service stocks are moving notably higher along with the price of crude oil.

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 also finished the day mixed. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index edged down by 0.1 percent and the German DAX Index fell by 0.4 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have shown a modest move to the downside over the course of the session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 1.6 basis points at 2.517 percent.

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