The benchmark averages have retreated from their opening highs leaving the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 struggling to stay positive as investors' appetite for risk stalled on mixed economic data and hawkish Fed comments. The Nasdaq Composite pulled back from its record highs, but remained in positive territory.
Data released at 6:00 a.m. showed small business optimism index fell 0.2 points in April to 104.5 vs. estimate of 103.8, according to data compiled by Econoday.
Job openings increased to 5.743 million in March, beating expectations for a slight decline to 5.70 million. But the number of jobs available in February was revised down by 610,000, while hiring remained soft in March.
Additionally, wholesale inventories were up 0.2%, in line with expectations, while sales were at a 22-month low. The inventory to sales ratio remained unchanged at 1.28.
At a speech in California this morning, Kansas City Fed president Esther George said she believes the Fed should continue to gradually raise interest rates, but there are risks in moving too slow. George, considered one of the most hawkish members of the Fed, also thinks the Fed should begin reducing the balance sheet this year, causing Treasury yields to inch up further.
In Europe, the UK's FTSE-100 was in the green for a fourth straight day with commodity-based stocks taking the lead. Euro-zone shares were also higher as the French election results fuels a modest bid for French and German equities.
Crude oil was down $0.36 to $46.05 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.05 to $3.22 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $9.90 to $1,217.20 an ounce, while silver was down $0.12 to $16.14 an ounce. Copper was down $0.01 to $2.50 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 0.98% to $9.57 with the United States Natural Gas Fund up 1.63% to $7.47. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF down 0.60% to 21.40 while SPDR Gold Shares was down 0.77% to $115.85. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.84% to $15.28.
Here's where the markets stand at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index was down 1.52 points (-0.01%) to 11,593.73
Dow Jones Industrial Index was down 2.98 points (-0.01%) to 21,009.30
S&P 500 was up 0.81 points (+0.03%) to 2,400.19
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 21.48 points (-0.35%) to 6,124.14
FTSE 100 was up 41.35 points (+0.57%) to 7,342.21
DAX was up 54.57 points (+0.43%) to 12,749.12
CAC 40 was up 15.06 points (+0.28%) to 5,398.01
Nikkei 225 was down 52.70 points (-0.26%) to 19,843.00
Hang Seng Index was down 311.12 points (+1.27%) to 24,889.03
Shanghai China Composite Index was up 1.91 points (+0.06%) to 3,080.53
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index was down 91.06 points (-0.86%) to 10,504.63
NYSE Financial Sector Index was down 20.54 points (-0.28%) to 7,243.79
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index was up 20.08 points (+0.15%) to 13,106.75
(+) CLNT (+74.31%) Investment firm YSK1860 buys stake in co.
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(+) VRX (+23.17%) Swung to a profit in Q1, raised FY17 adjusted EBITDA outlook
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(-) PLUG (-7.73%) Q1 profit misses estimates, FY sales forecast below expectations
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