U.S. Stocks Move Modestly Lower After Seeing Initial Strength

After failing to sustain an initial move to the upside, stocks have turned lower over the course of morning trading on Wednesday. The major averages have pulled back well off their highs of the session and into negative territory.

Currently, the major averages are posting modest losses. The Dow is down 53.66 points or 0.2 percent at 33,075.93, the Nasdaq is down 36.80 points or 0.3 percent at 11,455.50 and the S&P 500 is down 11.57 points or 0.3 percent at 3,985.77.

The initial strength on Wall Street partly reflected bargain hunting, with traders picking up stocks at relatively reduced levels following the sell-off seen on Tuesday.

Buying interest waned shortly after the start of trading, however, as traders continue to express concerns about the outlook for interest rates.

Later this afternoon, the Federal Reserve is scheduled to release the minutes of its latest monetary policy meeting.

The minutes may shed additional light on the outlook for interest rates amid worries the Fed will raise rates higher than currently anticipated.

Ahead of the minutes, CME Group’s FedWatch Tool is indicating a 79.0 percent chance the Fed will raise rates by 25 basis points next month and a 21.0 percent chance of a 50 basis point rate hike.

Oil service stocks are seeing substantial weakness in morning trading, dragging the Philadelphia Oil Service Index down by 3.6 percent to its lowest intraday level in well over a month.

The sell-off by oil service stocks comes amid a steep drop by the price of crude oil, with crude for April delivery slumping $1.08 to $75.28 a barrel.

Considerable weakness has also emerged among gold stocks, as reflected by the 2.1 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index. The weakness in the sector comes despite a modest increase by the price of gold.

Oil producer, steel and computer hardware stocks are also seeing notable weakness 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 moved mostly lower during trading on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 1.3 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.5 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has slid by 0.8 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are down by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries are regaining ground after moving sharply lower in the previous session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 4.7 basis points at 3.908 percent.

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