After four straight days of gains and breaking new records, stocks were drifting lower Tuesday as light profit-taking emerged amid a dearth of market moving news or significant M&A activity. Although losses were limited by bullish inventory and job openings data, all three major indices retreated, with energy and financial stocks leading the way lower. But momentum stocks, including Facebook ( FB ), Twitter ( TWTR ) and LinkedIn ( LNKD ), were posting modest gains.
In economic news, April wholesale inventories rose 1.1%, more than double analyst estimates. Sales were stronger than expected, gaining 1.3% from an upwardly revised 1.6% gain in March. Additionally, the inventory buildup could add to Q2 GDP as the component that gets consideration in GDP forecasts -- wholesale stocks excluding autos -- rose 1.1% in April.
Also, the Labor Department today said job openings during April increased to a much greater-than-expected 4.455 million available jobs from around 4.014 million openings during the prior month - representing the largest monthly gain in more than six years. The ratio of job seekers to available jobs fell to 2.2 from 2.5 in March.
European equities are mixed with investors continuing to migrate towards the U.S. government bond market to capitalize on the yield discrepancy between the U.S. and Europe. The defensive tone that originated from disappointing Swiss retail sales and French industrial production added to comments from the German think tank ZEW that the ECB rate cut has created an "asset bubble." But most markets recovered, with the exception of the UK FTSE which closed in negative territory.
Crude oil was up $0.12 to $104.53 per barrel. Natural gas was down $0.06 to $4.58 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $6.40 to $1,260.20 an ounce, while silver was up $0.13 to $19.20 an ounce. Copper was up $0.01 to $3.05 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 0.03% to $38.19 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 1.79% to $25.25. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 1.27 to 22.83 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.62% to $121.40. The iShares Silver Trust was up 0.75% to $18.46.
Here's where the markets stand at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index down 27.55 (-0.25%) to 10,891.07
Dow Jones Industrial Average down 13.17 (-0.08%) to 16,929.93
S&P 500 down 3.21 (-0.16%) to 1,948.06
Nasdaq Composite Index down 6.68 (-0.15%) to 4,329.56
Nikkei 225 Index down 0.85%
Hang Seng Index up 0.86%
Shanghai China Composite Index up 1.08%
FTSE 100 Index down 0.02%
CAC 40 up 0.13%
DAX up 0.20%
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index down 0.22%
NYSE Financial Sector Index down 0.36%
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.03%
(+) ACHN (+53.88%) Upgraded by JMP Securities to Market Outperform, provided update on hepatitis C drug trials.
(+) RCPT (+36.95%) Multiple sclerosis treatment met main goal in mid-stage trial.
(+) CHS (+8.85%) Financial Times reported that the company is considering a sale.
(-) RSH (-9.42%) Reported a wider than expected loss.
(-) FRAN (-13.74%) Revenue and earnings were below analyst estimates.
(-) QIWI (-6.70%) Plans to sell 8 million shares.
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