Stocks Defensive as Russian Sanctions, Malaysian Crash and Weak Housing Starts Snaps Winning Streak

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Stocks Thursday retraced their opening lows following news of a crash of a Malaysian commercial jet on the Ukraine border with Russia, inflaming worries triggered last night by new economic sanctions against Russia. U.S. markets followed Europe equities lower, slipping into the red in the wake of weak housing market data and geo-political concerns luring risk-adverse investors into the safety of gold and U.S. government bonds.

But today's losses have been mitigated by a round of upbeat earnings and a 14-year high for Microsoft ( MSFT ) shares after the software giant announced job cuts in an effort to become "more agile and move faster."

Economic data was mixed, with June housing starts falling 9.3% to a nine-month low of 893,000 and missing the market consensus looking for a 2.4% gain. Permits also missed estimates, dropping 4% to a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 963,000.


Initial jobless claims were down 3,000 for the week ended 7/12 to 302,000, beat expectations for a 6,000 gain to 310,000.

Finally, the Philadelphia Fed General Business Conditions index jumped to 23.9 from 17.8 the month prior versus forecasts for a slight decline to 16.9.

European equities were undermined by new U.S. and European Union sanctions against Russia as well as a possible default by a large Chinese commercial builder. European stocks suffered steep losses with Germany's DAX taking the brunt of selling pressure.

Crude oil was up $1.55 to $102.75 per barrel. Natural gas was down $0.15 to $3.97 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $21.90 to $1,329.70 an ounce, while silver was up $0.49 to $21.26 an ounce. Copper was up $0.01 to $3.22 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 1.17% to $37.74 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 3.62% to $21.84. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 2.10% to 26.82 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 1.71% to $127.15. The iShares Silver Trust was up 2.04% to $20.32.

Here's where the U.S. markets stand at mid-day:

NYSE Composite Index down 72.50 (-0.66%) to 10,945.38

Dow Jones Industrial Average down 64.48 (-0.38%) to 17,073.72

S&P 500 down 12.18 (-0.61%) to 1,969.39

Nasdaq Composite Index down 36.17 (-0.82%) to 4,389.80

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index down 0.06%

Hang Seng Index down 0.01%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.57%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.68%

CAC 40 down 1.21%

DAX down 1.07%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index down 1.96%

NYSE Financial Sector Index down 0.81%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index down 0.28%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) DRC (+10.48%) WSJ reported that Germany-based Siemens is mulling a bid to buy Dresser-Rand

(+) TRW (+1.83%) German auto supplier ZF Friedrichshafen to offer $13 bln for TRW

(+) BLFS (+27.65%) Announces deal with Somahlution to manufacture tissue storage material

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) MAT (-6.20%) Reported below-consensus earnings

(-) SNDK (-12.69%) Cautious guidance overshadowed better than expected results

(-) YUM (-6.37%) Profit exceed estimates, but sales were in-line



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2014 MTNewswires.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.



This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: MSFT

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