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U.S. Stocks Move Lower Amid Lingering Coronavirus Worries


Stocks have moved moderately lower in morning trading on Thursday, although selling pressure has remained somewhat subdued. While the major averages all showed initial moves to the downside, the Nasdaq rebounded to briefly peek above the unchanged line.

Currently, the major averages are all in negative territory. The Dow is down 124.08 points or 0.4 percent at 29,062.19, the Nasdaq is down 7.86 points or 0.1 percent at 9,375.90 and the S&P 500 is down 9.16 points or 0.3 percent at 3,312.59.

Lingering concerns about the impact of the Chinese coronavirus have generated some negative sentiment on Wall Street after contributing to a sell-off in the Asia-Pacific markets.

Despite efforts to contain the outbreak, deaths from the new coronavirus have risen to 17, with nearly 600 cases confirmed worldwide.

A notable decline by shares of Travelers (TRV) is weighing on the Dow after the insurance giant reported fourth quarter earnings and revenues that beat estimates but slightly weaker than expected net premiums written.

Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble (PG) has also moved to the downside after reporting better than expected fiscal second quarter earnings but revenues that missed estimates.

In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing a modest increase in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended January 18th.

The report said initial jobless claims rose to 211,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week's revised level of 205,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to climb to 215,000 from the 204,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Meanwhile, a separate report from the Conference Board showed a slightly bigger than expected decrease by its index of leading U.S. economic indicators.

The Conference Board said its leading economic index fell by 0.3 percent in December after inching up by a revised 0.1 percent in November

Economists had expected the leading economic index to dip by 0.2 percent compared to the unchanged reading originally reported for the previous month.

Energy stocks are seeing considerable weakness in morning trading, with a continued decrease by the price of crude oil weighing on the sector.

Crude for March delivery is tumbling $1.74 to $55 a barrel after plunging $1.64 to $56.74 a barrel in the previous session.

Reflecting the weakness in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is down by 2.7 percent, while the NYSE Arca Oil Index is down by 1.5 percent and the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index is down by 1.1 percent.

Significant weakness has also emerged among steel stocks, as reflected by the 2 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. The index has fallen to its lowest intraday level in well over a month.

Financial stocks have also shown a notable move to the downside on the day, while most of the other major sectors are showing more modest moves.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region saw significant weakness during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 1 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index plunged by 2.8 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the downside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index has fallen by 0.4 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index are down by 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved notably higher after ending the previous session nearly unchanged. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 4.2 basis points at 1.727 percent.

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