U.S. Stocks Turning In Lackluster Performance In Morning Trading

Stocks are turning in a lackluster performance in morning trading on Wednesday, with the major averages bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

Currently, the major averages are posting modest losses. The Dow is down 28.05 points or 0.1 percent at 33,213.51, the Nasdaq is down 22.70 points or 0.2 percent at 10,330.53 and the S&P 500 is down 5.77 points or 0.2 percent at 3,823.48.

With the modest decrease, the tech-heavy Nasdaq is adding to the steep loss posted on Tuesday, hitting its lowest intraday level in well over a month.

The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as many traders remain away from their desks amid the holidays, leading to light activity.

Following the long Christmas weekend, the markets are set for another break this weekend due to New Year’s Day.

Traders may also be looking ahead to next week’s closely watched monthly jobs report, which could shed additional light on the outlook for interest rates and the economy.

Reports on manufacturing and service sector activity are also likely to attract attention next week along with the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting.

On the economic front, a report released by the National Association of Realtors unexpectedly showed a continued slump in U.S. pending home sales in the month of November.

NAR said its pending home sales index tumbled by 4.0 percent to 73.9 in November after plunging by 4.7 percent to a revised 77.0 in October.

The extended nosedive came as a surprise to economists, who had expected pending home sales to increase by 0.6 percent.

Energy stocks are seeing substantial weakness in morning trading, with a steep drop by the price of crude oil weighing on the sector.

With crude for February delivery tumbling $2.03 to $77.50 a barrel, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is down by 3.3 percent and the NYSE Arca Oil Index is down by 2.0 percent.

A decrease by the price of gold is also weighing on gold stocks, dragging the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index down by 2.6 percent.

Tobacco, natural gas and steel stocks are also seeing notable weakness, 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 fell by 0.4 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index dipped by 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a mixed performance on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.4 percent, the German DAX Index is down by 0.3 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.5 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 up by less than a basis point at 3.866 percent.

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