Midday Update: Wall Street Struggles to Stay Positive as Trade Announcement Looms

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 have reversed their earlier gains and are now trading lower at midday on Thursday as Wall Street braces for President Donald Trump's trade announcement this afternoon. Trump is expected to place trade restrictions on imported steel and aluminium with no "carve-outs" for Canada and Mexico unless a new NAFTA deal is signed.

Stock futures were higher during the premarket session amid signs the president was softening on his hard-line stance towards trade tariffs and quotas. Shares pulled away from their highs after the European Central Bank omitted language from its policy statement regarding a possible expansion of quantitative easing, but perked up on a larger-than-expected increase in initial jobless claims. The S&P 500 challenged its 50-day moving average, but faced continued resistance and drifted into negative territory.

First time unemployment claims increased by 21,000 to 231,000 for the week ended March 3, more than twice the increase Wall Street expected.

European markets all closed higher following the decision by the European Central Bank to keep interest rates unchanged, but back away from earlier pledges to increase QE should economic conditions warrant. EU-zone markets backed off their earlier highs, but regained their upward momentum when ECB president Mario Draghi warned of reading too much into the exclusion of previous statements on QE. Draghi assured the financial markets the central bank has not abandoned its mandate to provide accommodation and ensure economic growth.

Crude oil was down $0.77 to $60.38 per barrel. Natural gas was down $0.02 to $2.76 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $7.60 to $1,320.10 an ounce, while silver was down $0.03 to $16.46 an ounce. Copper was down $0.05 to $3.08 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 1.54% to $12.16 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 1.16% to $22.95. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 1.96% to 21.53 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.40% to $125.22. The iShares Silver Trust was up 0.07% to $15.54.

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


NYSE Composite Index was down 2.40 points (-0.02%) to 12,704.61

Dow Jones Industrial Index was down 73.11 points (-0.29%) to 24,728.25

S&P 500 was up 3.80 points (+0.14%) to 2,730.60

Nasdaq Composite Index was up 8.53 points (+0.12%) to 7,405.18


FTSE 100 was up 45.40 points (+0.63%) to 7,203.24

DAX was up 110.21 points (+0.90%) to 12,355.57

CAC 40 was up 66.27 points (+1.28%) to 5,254.10

Nikkei 225 was up 115.35 points (+0.54%) to 21,368.07

Hang Seng Index was up457.60 points (+1.52%) to 30,654.52

Shanghai China Composite Index was up 17.63 points (+0.54%) to 3,289.29


NYSE Energy Sector Index was down 48.37 points (-0.45%) to 10,640.33

NYSE Financial Sector Index was down 27.83 points (-0.34%) to 8,237.35

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index was up 63.36 points (+0.43%) to 14,475.01


(+) IMRN (+70.33%) Reported positive results in NASH clinical trial

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(+) ESRX (+9.32%) To be acquired by Cigna ( CI ) in deal worth $67 billion


(-) VBLT (-63.05%) Phase 3 GLOBE trial did not meet primary endpoint

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(-) BREW (-6.04%) Beat Q4 EPS and revenue estimates but shipments were down 5.6%

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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