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Midday Update: Stocks Drift Lower, Shrugging off Bullish Factory Orders

More good news from the manufacturing sector failed to generate much interest in equities Tuesday with stocks trading slightly lower within a very narrow intra-day range.

After hitting new records on Monday, the lack of any major market moving news coupled with concerns about valuations has encouraged a slightly more defensive mood along Wall Street. Most industry sectors in the S&P 500 were falling, including consumer stocks despite the bidding war between Tyson Foods ( TSN ) and Pilgrim's Pride ( PPC ) lifting Hillshire Brands ( HSH ) to another all-time high.

The Commerce Department today said factory orders rose 0.7% during April, beating estimates for a 0.5% gain and marking the third consecutive month of an increase in this indicator. March figures also were revised higher to a 1.5% increase from the 1.1% rise first reported.

Also, U.S. auto sales showed strong gains during May, indicating winter weather may be more to blame for sluggish sales earlier this year than a drop in consumer spending. Nissan ( NSANY ) sales soared 19%, followed by a 17% gain in sales for Toyota ( TM ) and Chrysler. General Motors (GM), struggling with massive recalls, still reported an impresive 13% gain in sales, while Ford (F) saw sales improve by only 3%.

Retail sales were up last week with Redbook store sales gaining 3.5% for the week ended May 31.

European bourses were all lower with the regional financial markets treading water before Thursday's European Central Bank meeting. Odds favor some type of stimulus action by the central bank, but ever since Draghi signalled his intention to curb deflation and the continued appreciation in the euro, EU-zone markets have been pricing in a more accommodative policy for the last two weeks, leaving very little upside left.

Crude oil was up $0.15 to $102.61 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.04 to $4.65 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $0.60 to $1,244.70 an ounce, while silver was up $0.03 to $18.77 an ounce. Copper was down $0.03 to $3.14 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 0.17% to $37.60 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 0.75% to $25.71. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 0.75% to 22.13 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.12% to $119.85. The iShares Silver Trust was up 0.03% to $18.03.

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

NYSE Composite Index down 13.87 (-0.13%) to 10,758.14

Dow Jones Industrial Average down 26.31 (-0.16%) to 16,717.32

S&P 500 down 2.42 (-0.13%) to 1,922.55

Nasdaq Composite Index down 9.38 (-0.22%) to 4,227.82

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index up 0.66%

Hang Seng Index up 0.91%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.04%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.41%

CAC 40 down 0.27%

DAX down 0.31%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.20%

NYSE Financial Sector Index down 0.11%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index down 0.16%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) IDCC (+18.26%) Raises Q2 revenue guidance above street; signs patent license deal with Samsung.

(+) HSH (+9.03%) Pilgrim's Price ( PPC ) enters bidding war with Tyson Foods ( TSN ).

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) KKD (-14.26%) Reported weaker than expected Q1 revenue and cut its FY 2015 outlook.

(-) ZQK (-41.45%) Reported disappointing earnings and revenue, pushed back profit improvement plan.

(-) THRX (-19.30%) Separated R&D division from business division.

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

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

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