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Midday Update: Stocks Pressured by Soft Payroll Data, Global Growth Jitters

Equities were continuing to trade lower Wednesday, adding to heavy losses earlier in the week as investors' appetite for risk was undermined by global growth concerns and a below-consensus rise in U.S. private payrolls last month. Although the major benchmark indices are off their worst levels of the morning following better-than-expected factory orders and services sector data, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been near a three-week low, led by losses by energy and material stocks.

Wall Street was significantly lower before the open in sympathy with global markets that continued to reel from the unexpected decline in a key Chinese manufacturing index on Monday. Futures remained under pressure from a below-consensus 156,000 gain in private payrolls, according to ADP, resulting in downward revisions to Friday's non-farm payroll report.

The rest of Wednesday's data was mostly bullish including a narrower-than-expected U.S. trade deficit of $40.44 billion, a 1.1% jump in March factor orders, nearly twice what Wall Street was expecting, and a 0.8% gain in factory orders less transportation.

Data from the services sector -- the largest segment of the U.S. economy -- also was positive. The final purchasing managers April index was revised upward to 52.8 from 51.3 in March, and the Institute for Supply Management non-manufacturing index improved to 55.7 from 54.5 in March, beating the estimated 54.7.

Europe closed lower, with all the major indices at least 1% in the red, lingering near their 3-week lows. Mining stocks remained the laggard, taking the brunt of global growth jitters. Soft economic data from Europe also contributed to the defensive tone overseas as the German and EU-zone services sector PMI were both below consensus, and EU retail sales contracted more than expected.

Crude oil was down 5 cents to $43.60 per barrel. Natural gas was up 5 cents to $2.14 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $11 to $1,280.70 per ounce, while silver was down 17 cents to $17.33 per ounce. Copper was down 3 cents to $2.19 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 0.56% to $10.80 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 2.37% to $6.91. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 3.77% to 23.73 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.66% to $122.15. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.48% to $16.49.

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

NYSE Composite Index down 130.50 (-1.24%) to 10,365.83

Dow Jones Industrial Average down 140.25 (-0.78%) to 17,750.91

S&P 500 down 18.06 (-0.87%) to 2,063.37

Nasdaq Composite Index down 54.37 (-1.13%) to 4,763.22

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index down 3.11%

Hang Seng Index down 0.73%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.05%

FTSE 100 Index down 1.19%

CAC 40 down 1.09%

DAX down 0.99%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index down 1.39%

NYSE Financial Sector Index down 1.01%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index down 0.71%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) EBIO (+33.43%) To present at ARVO 2016 annual meeting

(+) ZG (+14.93%) Missed on EP estimates, but beat revenue expectations, issued strong Q2 and FY16 guidance

(+) ETSY (+5.00%) Reported its first quarterly profit since going public last year

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) CRAY (-18.20%) Narrows Q1 loss on strong revenue but sees higher risk in achieving 2016 revenue target

(-) GLUU (-17.60%) Issued weak FY16 guidance and announced plans to reduce workforce by 85

(-) RLYP (-17.15%) Announced $150 million debt financing after Tuesday's close

(-) RUBI (-13.41%) Q1 results beat street expectations but FY16 outlook disappointed

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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