Stocks Remain Mostly Negative In Mid-Day Trading - U.S. Commentary

( - Stocks have climbed off their worst levels of the day but remain mostly negative in mid-day trading on Monday. The pullback on the day came after the major averages showed strong moves to the upside last week.

Currently, the major averages are stuck in the red. The Dow is down 56.82 points or 0.2 percent at 23,939.13, the Nasdaq is down 44.61 points or 0.6 percent at 6,926.87 and the S&P 500 is down 9.87 points or 0.4 percent at 2,586.39.

Concerns about the global economic outlook contributed to initial 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.

Sector News

Utilities stocks have shown a substantial move to the downside on the day, dragging the Dow Jones Utilities Average down by 3.3 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.

Significant weakness is also visible among pharmaceutical stocks, as reflected by the 1.4 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Pharmaceutical Index.

Tobacco, gold, and semiconductor stocks are also seeing notable weakness on the day, while notable banking stocks have moved to the upside.

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

Other Markets

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.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'sFTSE 100 Index slumped by 0.9 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index fell by 0.4 percent and 0.3 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 up by less than a basis point at 2.708 percent.

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