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U.S. Stocks Turning In Lackluster Performance Following Recent Weakness

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Stocks have shown a lack of direction over the course of morning trading on Wednesday, with the major averages bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line following the downturn seen over the course of the previous session.

Currently, the major averages are turning in a mixed performance. While the Nasdaq is down 4.55 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 15,033.21, the Dow is up 47.52 points or 0.1 percent at 34,625.09 and the S&P 500 is up 7.65 points or 0.2 percent at 4,450.70.

Traders may be reluctant to make significant moves amid uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets following the downward trend seen over the past several sessions.

The Dow ended the previous session at its lowest closing level in almost two months, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq closed lower for four straight session.

Traders may also be looking ahead to upcoming reports on retail sales and consumer sentiment as well as next week's Federal Reserve meeting.

Meanwhile, traders have largely shrugged off today's batch of data, including a report from the Fed showing industrial production in the U.S. increased by slightly less than expected in the month of August.

The report said industrial production rose by 0.4 percent in August after climbing by a downwardly revised 0.8 percent in July.

Economists had expected industrial production to increase by 0.5 percent compared to the 0.9 percent advance originally reported for the previous month.

The Fed noted late-month shutdowns related to Hurricane Ida held down the gain in industrial production by an estimated 0.3 percentage points.

A separate report from the Labor Department unexpectedly showed U.S. import prices decreased for the first time since October of 2020 in the month of August.

The Labor Department said import prices fell by 0.3 percent in August after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.4 percent in July.

The drop surprised economists, who had expected import prices to rise by 0.3 percent, matching the increase originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the report said export prices increased by 0.4 percent in August after jumping by a downwardly revised 1.1 percent in July.

Economists had expected export prices to advance by 0.5 percent compared to the 1.3 percent surge originally reported for the previous month.

Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, contributing to the lackluster performance by the broader markets.

Energy stocks are seeing substantial strength, however, with a sharp increase by the price of crude oil contributing to the strength in the sector.

Crude for October delivery is spiking $2.38 to $72.84 a barrel after data showed a bigger than expected weekly decrease in crude oil inventories.

Reflecting the strength in the energy sector, the NYSE Arca Oil Index is up by 3.2 percent, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is up by 3 percent and the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index is up by 2.9 percent.

Considerable strength is also visible among steel stocks, as reflected by the 2.1 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. The index is bouncing off its lowest closing level in almost two months.

Biotechnology, banking and software stocks are also seeing some strength on the day, while semiconductor stocks have moved to the downside.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.5 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index edged down by 0.2 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is nearly unchanged, the German DAX Index is down by 0.5 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is down by 1 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are seeing modest weakness after moving notably higher in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 1.5 basis points at 1.292 percent.

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