U.S. Stocks Give Back Ground Following Recent Strength

After trending higher in recent sessions, stocks moved back to the downside over the course of the trading day on Tuesday. The major averages showed a lack of direction early in the session but slid firmly into negative territory as the day progressed.

The major averages regained some ground going into the close but remained in the red. The Dow slid 198.77 points or 0.6 percent to 33,402.38, the Nasdaq fell 63.13 points or 0.5 percent to 12,126.37 and the S&P 500 declined 23.91 points or 0.6 percent to 4,100.60.

Profit taking contributed to the pullback on Wall Street, as traders cashed in on recent strength in the markets amid lingering concerns about the global economic outlook.

The Dow and the S&P 500 closed higher for the fourth straight session on Monday, reaching their best closing levels in over a month, while the Nasdaq pulled back just off the six-month closing high set last Friday.

Negative sentiment was also generated by a Labor Department report showing job openings in the U.S. decreased by more than expected in the month of February.

The report said job openings fell to 9.9 million in February from a revised 10.6 million in January. Economists had expected job openings to decline to 10.4 million from the 10.8 million originally reported for the previous month.

“February’s JOLTS report is an indication that the softening in the labor market may be gaining some momentum,” said Matthew Martin, U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.

He added, “To be sure, job openings remain highly elevated, but February’s level is the first month below 10k since June 2021 and suggests businesses are becoming more wary about additional headcount.

A separate report released by the Commerce Department showed new orders for U.S. manufactured goods fell by more than expected in the month of February.

Traders also continued to look ahead to the release of the Labor Department’s closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.

Economists currently expect the report to show employment increased by 240,000 jobs in March after climbing by 311,000 jobs in February. The unemployment rate is expected to hold at 3.6 percent.

While the markets will be closed for Good Friday when the report is released, the data could still impact the outlook for interest rates and the economy.

Sector News

Steel stocks showed a substantial pullback on the day, with the NYSE Arca Steel Index plunging by 4.1 percent after closing higher for eight straight sessions.

Considerable weakness also emerged among energy stocks, which gave back ground after soaring on Monday along with the price of crude oil.

Despite a continued increase by the price of crude oil, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index tumbled by 2.9 percent and the NYSE Arca Oil Index dove by 2.7 percent.

Banking stocks also showed significant move to the downside over the course of the session, dragging the KBW Bank Index down by 2.0 percent.

Housing, semiconductor and transportation stocks also saw notable weakness, while gold stocks bucked the downtrend amid a sharp increase by the price of the precious metal.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Tuesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.4 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index climbed by 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the German DAX Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index closed nearly unchanged and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.5 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries moved sharply higher over the course of the session after seeing initial weakness. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, slumped by 9.3 basis points to 3.337 percent.

Looking Ahead

Trading on Wednesday may be impacted by reaction to reports on private sector employment, service sector activity and the U.S. trade deficit.

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