Stocks Regain Ground After Initial Move To The Downside - U.S. Commentary

( - After moving sharply lower early in the session, stocks have regained some ground over the course of morning trading on Monday. The major averages have climbed well off their lows of the session but remain firmly in negative territory.

Currently, the major averages are stuck in the red. The Dow is down 101.78 points or 0.4 percent at 23,894.17, the Nasdaq is down 48.29 points or 0.7 percent at 6,923.19 and the S&P 500 is down 11.90 points or 0.5 percent at 2,584.36.

Concerns about the global economic outlook contributed to the initial early weakness on Wall Street following the release of disappointing Chinese trade data.

Data from China'sGeneral Administration of Customs showed exports tumbled by 4.4 percent year-over-year in December, reflecting the biggest drop in two years. Economists had expected exports to increase by 3 percent.

The report also said Chinese imports plunged by 7.6 percent in December compared to the same month a year ago, defying expectations for a 5 percent jump.

ING Greater China Economist Iris Pang said the contraction in Chinese imports and exports "is likely to continue into 2019 due to falling foreign demand, including demand for Chinese-made electronic products."

Selling pressure waned shortly after the start of trading, however, as traders seem wary of missing out on further upside following the advance seen in recent sessions.

Utilities stocks have shown a substantial move to the downside in morning trading, dragging the Dow Jones Utilities Average down by 2.3 percent.

PG&E Corp. ( PCG ) is posting a steep loss after the utility said it plans to file for bankruptcy due to potential liabilities resulting from the 2017 and 2018 Northern California wildfires.

Pharmaceutical, computer hardware, and semiconductor stocks are also seeing considerable weakness, while notable strength has emerged among banking stocks.

Within the banking sector, Citigroup (C) is posting a strong gain after reporting fourth quarter earnings that exceeded analyst estimates.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Monday, with the Japanese markets closed for a holiday. China's Shanghai Composite Index slid by 0.7 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged by 1.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have climbed off their worst levels but remain in the red. While the U.K.'sFTSE 100 Index is down by 0.7 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are down by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have pulled back near the unchanged line after seeing initial strength. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by less than a basis point at 2.695 percent.

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