The Dow Jones Industrial Average has retreated back into negative territory at midday on Thursday as heavy losses in the energy sector coupled with renewed geopolitical tensions put the blue chip index on track for another lower close.
After trading higher before the open, Wall Street was spooked mid-morning by remarks from Russian president Vladimir Putin who said that the "situation in North Korea is deteriorating", as well as a 2% drop in crude oil on reports of an increase in production by Libya.
As a result, the energy sector was leading decliners among S&P 500 sectors, followed by heavy losses in the financial and telecom sectors.
The Nasdaq is still clinging to a modest gain on strength in chipmakers and FANG stocks (Facebook FB, Amazon AMZN, Netflix NFLX and Alphabet GOOG, GOOGL).
But despite geopolitical pressures and weak housing market data, selling pressure across the major indices has been dulled by strong quarterly results from PayPal ( PYPL ), Comcast ( CMCSA ), Dow Chemical ( DOW ) and Ford ( F ).
On the economic front, durable goods orders increased another 0.7% in March from an upward revised 2.3% gain in February, but missed expectations for a gain of 1.1%. Excluding the transportation segment, orders were down 0.2% from an upward revised 0.7% increase the month prior.
Initial jobless claims jumped 14K to 257K the week ended April 22, while the U.S.'s trade in goods deficit widened to $64.8 billion in March from a revised deficit of $63.9 billion in February.
Contracts to buy previously-owned homes declined 0.8% in March from an impressive 5.5% increase in February, missing expectations for a drop of 0.5%.
And finally, the Kansas City Fed index fell to 7.0 in April from 20.0, much worse than projections for a drop to 17.0.
European bourses were all lower for the first time in seven days following remarks from European Central Bank president Mario Draghi, and decision by the ECB to leave monetary policy unchanged, both of which signaled a lack of confidence in the Euro-zone economy. Disappointing Q1 revenues from Deutsche Bank ( DB ) were also a factor for the loss in both the Euro-Stoxx and German DAX.
Crude oil was down $1.23 to $48.39 per barrel. Natural gas was on $0.04 to $3.22 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $2.90 to $1,267.30 an ounce, while silver was down $0.07 to $17.35 an ounce. Copper was down $0.02 to $2.58 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 1.66% to $10.09 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 0.83% to $7.46. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 1.92% to 21.88 while SPDR Gold Shares was down 0.31% to $120.47. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.94% to $16.41.
Here's where the markets stand at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index was down 34.95 points (-0.30%) to 11,557.85
Dow Jones Industrial Index was down 19.01 points (-0.09%) to 20,956.44
S&P 500 was down 2.47 points (-0.11%) to 2,384.84
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 13.08 points (+0.22%) to 6,038.51
FTSE 100 was down 51.55 points (-0.71%) to 7,237.17
DAX was down 29.01 points (-0.23%) to 12,443.79
CAC 40 was down 16.18 points (-0.31%) to 5,271.70
Nikkei 225 was down 37.56 points (-0.19%) to 19,251.87
Hang Seng Index was up 120.05 points (+0.49%) to 24,698.48
Shanghai China Composite Index was up 11.34 points (+0.36%) to 3,152.19
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index down 191.60 points (-1.80%) to 10,436.78
NYSE Financial Sector Index was down 36.02 points (-0.50%) to 7,258.33
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index was up 86.14 points (-0.67%) to 13,006.89
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