Stocks have turned slightly negative Monday afternoon following remarks from Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee this year and considered one of the more dovish members on the policy-setting panel, suggesting increased interest rates were more likely higher than investors currently were pricing into financial futures.
Another decline in oil prices today following a greater-than-expected decline in February factory orders also were weighing on stock prices today.
Stocks have turned slightly negative in midday trade Monday as remarks from Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren coupled with lower oil prices erases earlier gains that resulted from a greater-than-expected decline in February factory orders and driving the Dow Jones Industrial Average off 17,800.
Oil, meanwhile, was falling for a ninth day in a row as doubts about a possible production freeze was pushing the price of a barrel of crude back near a one-month low. Iran's oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, said recently that the country will continue increasing production until it reaches pre-sanction levels, undermining attempts by Russia and Saudi Arabia to limit production, and making the upcoming Doha OPEC meeting irrelevant.
As a result of fewer orders for oil-services equipment and airplanes, factory were down 1.7% in February, more than offsetting a revised 1.2% increase the month prior and missing estimates for a 1.6% drop. Additionally, durable goods orders for February were revised down to -3.0% from -2.8% initially.
European equities closed modestly higher as gains in the defensive sector offset pressure on telecoms in the wake of a failed merger between France's Orange and Bouygues. European equities also overcame losses tied to worries surrounding the Greek bailout after reports were leaked that the International Monetary Fund had pressured Germany to ease Greece's debt burden or lose the IMF's participation in the bailout.
Crude oil was down 23 cents to $36.56 per barrel. Natural gas was up 8 cents to $2.03 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $3 to $1,220.50 per ounce, while silver was down 5 cents to $15 per ounce. Copper was down 3 cents to $2.14 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 0.31% to $9.30 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 4.01% to $6.88. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 1.69% to 19.76 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.34% to $116.53. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.28% to $14.30.
Here's where the U.S. markets stood at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index down 7.55 (-0.07%) to 10,212.41
Dow Jones Industrial Average down 9.11 to (-0.05%) to 17,783.64
S&P 500 down 4.48 (-0.10%) to 4,910.06
Nasdaq Composite Index down 4.00 to (-0.08%) to 4,910.54
Nikkei 225 Index down 0.25%
Hang Seng Index down 1.34%
Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.19%
FTSE 100 Index up 0.30%
CAC 40 up 0.53%
DAX up 0.28%
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.28%
NYSE Financial Sector Index down 0.39%
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 1.46%
(+) VA (+41.56%) To be acquired by Alaska Airlines ( ALK ) for $57 per share
(+) RKUS (+31.90%) To be acquired by Brocade Communications ( BRCD ) for $1.2 billion
(+) EW (+18.87%) Sapien 3 valve replacement demonstrates superiority to surgery
(+) ZFGN (+9.85%) Disclosed positive data from Phase 3 trial of beloranib in patients with Prader-Wili syndrome
(-) BRCD (-13.77%) Agreed to buy Ruckus Wireless ( RKUS ) for about $1.2 billion
(-) AWI (-12.85%) Completes separation of Armstrong Flooring ( AFI )
(-) PGNX (-5.67%) FDA extended Prescription Drug User Fee Act date for review of Relistor by three months to July 19.
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