Propped up by gains in component stocks Apple ( AAPL ) and Caterpillar ( CAT ) along with technical support, the Dow Jones Industrial Average clawed its way into positive territory at midday on Monday, erasing early losses tied to fears of protectionist trade policies within the Group of 20 major industrialized countries.
The Dow was modestly higher, while the Nasdaq Composite set a new record high on gains in the chipmaker sector.
Shares were lower at Monday's open in reaction to a communique from the G20 that dropped a pledge to avoid trade protectionism. This rekindled concerns that the U.S. would spark a trade war with China, Japan and Europe.
Stocks were also pressured by lower oil prices after data on Friday showed production levels in the U.S. were on the rise. As a result, the energy sector was leading S&P 500 decliners with a loss of 0.72%.
Economic data from the Chicago Fed showed business activity improved dramatically in February as the national activity index jumped to positive 0.34 from a revised negative 0.02 in January, well above estimates for an increase to positive 0.03.
European bourses were mixed after the UK government confirmed that it will invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to officially initiate separation from the European Union on March 29. The UK's FTSE-100 closed with a marginal gain, while the benchmark Euro-zone indices were all in the red as the EU braces for tonight's French presidential debate. Currently, far-right and anti-EU candidate Marine Le Pen is leading over her four opponents.
Crude oil was down $0.51 to $48.26 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.07 $3.07 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $3.40 to $1,233.60 an ounce, while silver was up $0.01 to $17.43 an ounce. Copper was down $0.03 to $2.66 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 0.39% to $10.30 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 2.39% to $7.29. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 0.04 to 22.68 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.42% to $117.48. The iShares Silver Trust was up 0.12% to $16.50.
Here's where the markets stand at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index was down 14.14 points (-0.12%) to 11,574.86
Dow Jones Industrial Index was up 30.88 points (+0.14%) to 20,944.74
S&P 500 was down 0.59 points (-0.03%) to 2,377.59
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 6.48 points (+0.11%) to 5,907.25
FTSE 100 was up 0.34 points (+0.00%) to 7,425.16
DAX was down 26.45 points (-0.22%) to 12,068.67
CAC 40 was down 4.15 points (-0.08%) to 5,025.09
Nikkei 225 was down 68.55 points (-0.35%) to 19,521.59
Hang Seng Index was up 192.06 points (+0.79%) to 24,501.99
Shanghai China Composite Index was up 13.36 points (+0.41%) to 3,250.81
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index was down 60.46 points (-0.56%) to 10,692.72
NYSE Financial Sector Index was down 20.39 points (-0.28%) to 7,320.68
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index was up 11.27 points (+0.08%) to 12,881.18
(+) ESPR (+52.05%) LDL-C lowering program clears FDA regulatory hurdle
(+) NKTR (+30.19%) Chronic pain study meets primary and secondary endpoints
(+) CTMX (+23.36%) Expands partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY )
(+) DDC (+18.75%) Receives $1.8 million takeover bid by Washington Corp
(-) CERU (-63.86%) Enters into a stock purchase agreement with Dare Bioscience
(-) GNMX (-57.08%) SAGA trial of AEVI-101 did not meet primary endpoints
(-) ARRY (-6.39%) Withdraws NDA for binimetinib in NRAS-mutant melanoma