Midday Update: Stocks Drift Lower on Weak European Markets, Pressure on Energy Shares

Stocks remain slightly lower Monday as selling pressure in Europe and broad-based weakness in the energy sector weighed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index. The Nasdaq Composite, however, was holding onto a slim gain thanks to strength in Yahoo ( YHOO ) ahead of Alibaba's ( BABA ) upcoming road show along with GoPro ( GPRO ) and Twitter ( TWTR ). But even with the more cautious tone, all three major indices were clinging near Friday's record levels as the markets retrench before the deluge of data at the end of this week.

European equity markets were defensive overnight after a recent poll showed that Scots in favor of succession from the UK gained the majority with 51% of the vote. Weakness in Europe subsequently spilled into the U.S. leaving futures lower into the open with the dearth of economic data and Friday's record levels encouraging more consolidation despite a strong dollar and cheap energy prices.

M&A activity was again brisk with the announcement that Multimedia Games ( MGAM ) agreed to a $1.2 billion buyout offer from Global Cash Access Holdings ( GCA ); General Electric sold its appliance business to Sweden's Electrolux for $3.3 billion; and Chiquita (CQB) requested that Brazil's Cutrale Group and Safra Group make their final offer for the company before the shareholder vote on Chiquita's deal with Ireland's Fyffes PLC .

Crude oil was down $0.99 to $92.30 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.07 to $3.87 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $13.30 to $1,254.10 an ounce, while silver was down $0.12 to $19.04 an ounce. Copper was up $0.04 to $3.21 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund down 1.26% to $34.46 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 1.69% to $21.12. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 2.55% to 24.34 while SPDR Gold Shares was down 1.20% to $120.57. The iShares Silver Trust was down 1.01% to $18.23.

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

NYSE Composite Index down 53.74 (-0.49%) to 11,019.67

Dow Jones Industrial Average down 20.26 -0.12% 17,117.10

S&P 500 down 5.52 (-0.27%) to 2,002.19

Nasdaq Composite Index up 1.91 (+0.04%) to 4,584.81


Nikkei 225 Index up 0.23%

Hang Seng Index down 0.20%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.85%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.30%

CAC 40 down 0.26%

DAX 0.11%


NYSE Energy Sector Index down 1.61%

NYSE Financial Sector Index down 0.27%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index down 0.16%


(+) MGAM (+28.85%) GCA to buy company for $36.5 per share or 31% premium to Friday close.

(+) MSTX (+5.43%) Reports encouraging results from pulmonary arterial hypertension treatment study.

(+) HTZ (+1.02%) CEO Mark Frissor resigns; co names Brian MacDonald interim CEO.


(-) KERX (-11.46%) Shares slump off eight-year high despite FDA approval of Ferric Citrate.

(-) HPTX (-7.67%) Ends DiaPep277 program after employees manipulated data.

(-) XCRA (-5.29%) Begins $40 mln public offering.

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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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