Markets

Midday Update: Stocks Plagued by Fluctuations in Oil, High-Yield Bond Market

Stocks have trimmed their earlier losses but continue to be held hostage by fluctuations in the energy complex as oil flirts with a multi-year low as well as a feeding frenzy for high yield bonds that continues to undermine confidence in high-risk assets.

The S&P 500 slipped below 2,000 for the first time since October, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has turned narrowly higher in recent trade after earlier falling to an eight-week low on losses for energy and other commodity stocks along with declines for component companies Apple ( AAPL ) and DuPont ( DD ).

European equities limped into the close in sympathy with U.S. declines and cheap oil, despite very dovish comments surrounding EU and UK monetary policy from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, and Bank of England member Nemat Shafik. Energy shares were among the biggest losers, followed by stocks in the banking and finance sector.

Crude oil was up 45 cents to $36.05 per barrel. Natural gas was down 11 cents to $1.88 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $8.40 to $1,067.30 per ounce, while silver was down 15 cents to $13.73 an ounce. Copper was unchanged at $2.11 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 0.97% to $11.18 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 4.60% to $7.37. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 4.45% to 13.74 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.88% to $102.20. The iShares Silver Trust was down 1.43% to $13.11.

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

NYSE Composite Index down 11.75 (-0.12%) to 9,964.91

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 7.95 (+0.05%) to 17,273.16

S&P 500 down 1.22 (-0.06%) to 2,011.15

Nasdaq Composite Index down 12.43 (-0.25%) to 4,921.04

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index down 1.80%

Hang Seng Index down 0.72%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 2.51%

FTSE 100 Index down 1.32%

CAC 40 down 1.68%

DAX down 1.94%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.16%

NYSE Financial Sector Index down 0.09%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.08%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) NRX (+65.28%) FDA clears INDA for Pyridorin treatment for acute kidney injury

(+) IMNP (+12.14%) Reports positive data on bi-specified antibody

(+) AKBA (+10.05%) To get milestone payments under deal with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma to develop chronic kidney disease anemia drug

(+) ISR (+7.84%) Published peer-reviewed study of Cesium 131 brachytherapy

(+) KTOV (+2.19%) Gains ahead of Tuesday presentation on drug to treat high blood pressure and osteoarthritis pain

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) ATRA (-24.53%) Suspends development of end stage renal disease drug as trial doesn't meet endpoint

(-) GBSN (-14.03%) Extends Friday's losses after 1-for-60 reverse stock split

(-) PSTI (-10.92%) UTHR scraps licensing agreement for pulmonary arterial hypertension drug

(-) PNTR (-3.81%) Received Nasdaq non-compliance letter due to passing of audit committee member

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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