Midday Update: Stocks Turn Negative on China Trade Data, Weak Oil

The Dow has recovered off Tuesday's lows, but continues to trade in the red for the first time in six days after a substantial decline in Chinese exports coupled with selling pressure on oil rekindled a risk-off trade in global equities. Dow component stock Caterpillar ( CAT ) is taking the brunt of a 25% plunge in China's exports, followed by heavy losses in the energy and materials sector amid concerns about China's ailing economy.

China's trade surplus shrank by 48% in February with exports and imports declining much more than expectations. The reaction spread across global equity and commodity markets, rekindling a flight-to-quality into government securities and precious metals.

Oil continues to be plagued by oversupply after Kuwait's oil minister said his country would agree to production cuts contingent on cooperation from other major oil producers. Although oil rebounded into positive turf at the North American open, it returned modest gains to fall 3% in the red.

European equities all lost traction on the Chinese trade data, and added to overnight losses in sympathy with U.S. equities. UK equities, specifically bank stocks, are taking on the heaviest losses after Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned parliament of the financial cost of a Brexit.

Crude oil was down 98 cents to $36.91 per barrel. Natural gas was up 3 cents to $1.72 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $2.50 to $1,266.70 an ounce, while silver was down 17 cents to $15.46 an ounce. Copper was down 7 cents to $2.21 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 3.20% to $9.79 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 0.33% to $6.12. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 4.24% to 19.55 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 013% to $121.01. The iShares Silver Trust was down 1.54% to $14.67.

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

NYSE Composite Index down 99.86 (-1.00%) to 9,906.33

Dow Jones Industrial Average down 46.62 (-0.27%) to 17,027.33

S&P 500 down 11.02 (-0.55%) to 1,990.74

Nasdaq Composite Index down 23.14 (-0.49%) to 4,685.11


Nikkei 225 Index down 0.76%

Hang Seng Index down 0.73%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.14%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.92%

CAC 40 down 0.86%

DAX down 0.88%


NYSE Energy Sector Index down 3.24%

NYSE Financial Sector Index down 1.36%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index down 0.37%


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Copyright (C) 2016 All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

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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