Midday Update: Weak Claims, Possible Fed Policy Shift Drives Equities Lower

Stocks are off their worst levels of the day, but still in negative territory after weekly employment data corroborated the sluggish August payroll report. Investors also on edge into next week's Federal Open Market Committee meeting as uncertainty surrounding Fed monetary policy is encouraging a more defensive bias in the financial markets. As a result, the S&P 500 is below 2000 for the second straight day and the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped below 17,000 for the third day in row.

Biotechs and semiconductor stocks are once again weighing on the Nasdaq Composite, although there are pockets of strength coming from names like BlackBerry (BBRY, BB.TO), EBay ( EBAY ) and Twitter ( TWTR ) to mitigate heavy pressure on the tech index.

Initial jobless claims jumped 11,000 to 315,000 for the week ended September 6, which includes the Labor Day holiday. The consensus estimate was for a small decline to 300,000. The week prior was revised upward to 304,000 from 302,000.

Europe's bourses all closed in the red for the fifth straight day as worries over next week's Scottish referendum and its likely negative impact on the UK economy encouraged risk-adverse investors to abandon equities. The UK FTSE-100 was briefly elevated by a new poll that puts those in favor of an independent Scotland in the minority, but the uptick only encouraged profit-taking causing the FTSE to underperform its German and French counterparts.

Crude oil was up $0.57 to $92.24 per barrel. Natural gas was down $0.13 to $3.87 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $8.30 to $1,237.00 an ounce, while silver was down $0.28 to $18.65 an ounce. Copper was down $0.02 to $3.09 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 0.03% to $34.26 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 3.09% to $20.88. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 1.33% to 23.79 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 1.09% to $118.95. The iShares Silver Trust was down 2.12% to $17.86.

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


(+) SCOK (+27.93%) Shares extend gains after announcing exclusive agreement with Chinese science academies to refine coal refining techology

(+) RSH (+17.08%) Lines up financing with Standard General and UBS to avoid bankruptcy

(+) LULU (+15.00%) Fiscal Q2 results beats estimates


(-) NETE (-24.21%) Gives up Wednesday's gains tied to Apple ( AAPL ) E-wallet

(-) OREX (-8.65%) Price drops despite receiving FDA approval on Contrave

(-) INVE (-20.02%) 2 million share offering priced at 23% discount to Wednesday's close

(-) EOPN (-28.57%) Issued weak full-year revenue forecast and announced resignation of chief sales officer

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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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