The major benchmark averages were all trading defensively on Tuesday with a sell-off in oil driving energy shares sharply lower and West Texas intermediate oil futures into bear market territory.
Oil futures were leading headlines again as Libyan production gains and rising supply held in floating storage drove Brent crude to its lowest level since November. Accordingly, oil producers are under heavy pressure with the energy sector the worst performing sector this morning.
In economic news, the current account deficit widened to $116.8 billion in Q1 from a revised $114.0 billion deficit, but beat the estimated -$122.1 billion.
For Fed watchers, comments from Boston Fed president Eric Rosengren and Chicago Fed president Charles Evans split the vote between the hawks and the doves as Rosengren thinks low rates will hurt the U.S. economy, while Evans thinks 2% inflation will be challenging to achieve, making the argument for lower interest rates.
The oil sell-off permeated European bourses with the major market averages all in the red, erasing early gains. The UK's FTSE-100 was higher early in the London session after comments from Bank of England governor Mark Carney sent the pound spiralling lower. Carney said that "now is not the time" to hike interest rates given mixed signals on consumer spending and business investment. Sterling unravelled, falling to its lowest level against the dollar since April, lifting shares of UK multinationals.
Crude oil was down $1.14 to $43.06 per barrel. Natural gas was unchanged at $2.92 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $1.60 to $1,245.10 an ounce, while silver was $0.07 at $16.43 an ounce. Copper was down $0.03 to $2.57 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 0.12% to $6.52. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 0.39% to 21.84 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.09% to $118.32. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.06% to $15.60.
Here's where the markets stand at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index was 72.97 points (-0.62%) to 11,760.52
Dow Jones Industrial Index was down 18.25 points (-0.08%) to 21,510.74
S&P 500 was down 9.82 points (-0.40%) to 2,443.62
Nasdaq Composite Index was down 23.47 points (-0.43%) to 6,212.31
FTSE 100 was down 51.10 points (-0.68%) to 7,472.71
DAX was down 74.16 points (0.58%) to 12,814.79
CAC 40 was down 17.07 points (-0.32%) to 5,293.65
Nikkei 225 was up 162.66 points (+0.81%) to 20,230.41
Hang Seng Index was down 81.51 points (-0.31%) to 25,843.04
Shanghai China Composite Index was down 4.36 points (-0.14%) to 3,140.01
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index was down 186.79 points (-1.82%) to 10,048.50
NYSE Financial Sector Index was down 51.38 points (-0.69%) to 7,391.40
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index was up 34.65 points (+0.25%) to 13,378.59
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