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Major Averages Finish Choppy Trading Day Mixed - U.S. Commentary

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Stocks recovered from an initial move to the downside but showed a lack of direction over the remainder of the trading session on Monday. The major averages spent most of the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

The major averages eventually ended the session mixed. While the Dow dipped 48.49 points or 0.2 percent to 26,511.05, the Nasdaq rose 17.21 points or 0.2 percent to 8,015.27 and the S&P 500 inched up 2.94 points or 0.1 percent to 2,907.97.

The choppy trading on Wall Street came as traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the release of a slew of earnings news from big-name companies in the coming days.

Coca-Cola (KO), Procter & Gamble (PG), Boeing (BA), Facebook (FB), Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN), Intel (INTC), and Exxon Mobil (XOM) are just a few of the companies due to report their quarterly results this week.

The Easter Monday holiday, which has kept many overseas markets closed on the day, also contributed to light trading activity.

On the U.S. economic front, the National Association of Realtors released a report showing a significant pullback in existing home sales in the month of March.

NAR said existing home sales plunged by 4.9 percent to an annual rate of 5.21 million in March after soaring by 11.2 percent to a revised rate of 5.48 million in February.

Economists had expected existing home sales to tumble by 3.8 percent to a rate of 5.30 million from the 5.51 million originally reported for the previous month.

The bigger than expected pullback came after existing home sales reached their highest level in almost a year in February.

"It is not surprising to see a retreat after a powerful surge in sales in the prior month," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. "Still, current sales activity is underperforming in relation to the strength in the jobs markets."

Sector News

Most of the major sectors ended the day showing only modest moves, contributing to the lackluster close by the broader markets.

Energy stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the session, however, benefiting from a sharp increase by the price of crude oil.

Crude for May delivery jumped $1.70 to $65.70 a barrel on news President Donald Trump will no longer grant sanctions waivers to a handful of buyers of Iranian oil.

On the other hand, gold stocks showed a significant move to the downside on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index down by 1.9 percent.

The weakness among gold stocks came despite an uptick by the price of the precious metal, as gold for June delivery rose $1.60 to $1,277.60 an ounce.

Steel, computer hardware, and housing stocks also saw notable weakness, with the disappointing existing home sales data weighing on the housing sector.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Monday, with several markets closed for holidays. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index plunged by 1.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets remain closed on the day for the Easter Monday holiday.

In the bond market, treasuries gave back ground after moving notably higher last Thursday. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 2.5 basis points at 2.585 percent.

Looking Ahead

Earnings news is likely to be in focus on Tuesday, with Coca-Cola, Harley-Davidson (HOG), Hasbro (HAS), Procter & Gamble, Twitter (TWTR), and Verizon (VZ) among the companies due to report their quarterly results before the start of trading.

Traders are also likely to keep an eye on the Commerce Department's report on new home sales in the month of March.

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