U.S. Stocks Climb Well Off Worst Levels But Remain Mostly Lower

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After moving sharply lower early in the session, stocks have regained some ground over the course of the trading day on Wednesday. The major averages have climbed well off their lows of the session but remain in negative territory.

Currently, the Dow is down 122.46 points or 0.4 percent at 33,611.50 after falling more than 450 points in early trading. The Nasdaq is down 98.77 points or 0.9 percent at 11,235.50 and the S&P 500 is down 22.16 points or 0.6 percent at 3,994.79.

The early sell-off on Wall Street largely reflected a negative reaction to earnings news from some big-name companies.

Software Microsoft (MSFT) showed a steep drop in early trading reporting its fiscal second quarter results after the close of trading on Tuesday.

Microsoft reported second quarter earnings that exceeded analyst estimates but provided disappointing revenue guidance for the current quarter.

Shares of Microsoft plunged by as much as 4.6 percent but have shown a notable rebound over the course of the session and are currently down just 0.8 percent.

Aerospace giant Boeing (BA) also saw initial weakness after reporting an unexpected fourth quarter loss on weaker than expected revenues but has regained ground since.

Meanwhile, shares of AT&T (T) have spiked by 6.2 after the telecom giant reported better than expected fourth quarter earnings.

The recovery attempt by stocks may reflect traders being reluctant to make significant bets ahead of the release of some key economic data in the coming days.

Traders are likely to keep a close eye on reports on durable goods orders, fourth quarter GDP, and personal income and spending.

Sector News

Despite the recovery attempt by the broader markets, networking stocks continue to see significant weakness, resulting in a 1.6 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Networking Index.

Considerable weakness also remains visible among natural gas stocks, as reflected by the 1.3 percent loss being posted by the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index.

The weakness in the sector comes as the price of natural gas is extending the sell-off seen on Tuesday, with natural gas for March delivery plunging $0.121 or 4.0 percent to $2.936 per million BTUs.

Transportation and software stocks also continue to see notable weakness, while oil service stocks have shown a substantial move to the upside.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific ended mixed on Wednesday, with several markets still closed for the Lunar New Year. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.4 percent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index fell by 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved modestly lower on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index dipped by 0.2 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both edged down by 0.1 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have pulled back near the unchanged line after seeing early strength. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.5 basis points at 3.454 percent.

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Business News

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Shares of Novartis AG were losing around 2 percent in the early morning trading in Switzerland after the drug major reported Wednesday sharply lower profit in its fourth quarter with weak sales as well as the absence of prior year's hefty Roche income. Adjusted earnings, however, topped market estimates, while top line missed their view. Further, the company announced higher dividend... Boeing has delivered its final 747 jumbo jet, bringing to a close more than 50 years of its production, to Atlas Air Worldwide, the largest operator of the widebody jet called as the "Queen of the Skies." The aerospace and defense major and Atlas Air joined thousands of people to celebrate the delivery of the final 747-8 Freighter at the Everett factory, where 747 began its journey in 1967. Branded food company Conagra Brands Inc. has recalled about 2.58 million pounds of canned meat and poultry products citing a packaging defect, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service sad in a statement. According to the agency, the possible packaging defect may cause the products to become contaminated without showing any outward signs of contamination.
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