U.S. Stocks Continue To See Moderate Weakness

After moving to the downside early in the session, stocks continue to see moderate weakness in afternoon trading on Tuesday. While the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 remain in negative territory, the narrower Dow has recently been bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

Currently, the Nasdaq is down 52.72 points or 0.4 percent at 14,293.30 and the S&P 500 is down 12.66 points or 0.3 percent at 4,576.30. The Dow, on the other hand, is posting a modest gain, up 19.36 points or 0.1 percent at 35,578.89

The weakness on Wall Street may partly reflect profit taking, as some traders look to cash in on the strong gains posted last month.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq soared by 4.1 percent for July, while the Dow and the S&P 500 jumped by 3.4 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.

Overall trading activity remains somewhat subdued, however, as traders continue to look ahead to Friday’s closely watched monthly jobs report.

In U.S. economic news, a report released by the Institute for Supply Management showed U.S. manufacturing activity contracted for the ninth consecutive month in July.

The ISM said its manufacturing PMI crept up to 46.4 in July from 46.0 in June, but a reading below 50 continues to indicate contraction. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 46.8.

The Commerce Department also released a report showing construction spending rose by slightly less than expected in the month of June.

A separate report released by the Labor Department showed job openings edged down 9.58 million in June from 9.62 million in May.

Meanwhile, the uptick by the Dow comes amid a substantial gain by Caterpillar, with the construction equipment manufacturer surging by 8.1 percent after reporting better than expected second quarter results.

Sector News

Gold stocks are turning in some of the market’s worst performances on the day, with a steep drop by the price of the precious metal weighing on the sector.

With gold for December delivery tumbling $29.70 to $1,979.50 an ounce, the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index has plunged by 3.2 percent.

Airline stocks have also shown a substantial move to the downside, resulting in a 2.6 percent nosedive by the NYSE Arca Airline Index. Earlier in the session, the index fell to its lowest intraday level in well over a month.

JetBlue (JBLU) is leading the sector lower, with the airline plummeting by 7.8 percent after reporting better than expected second quarter earnings but slashing its full-year guidance.

Banking, steel and energy stocks are also seeing considerable weakness on the day, while networking stocks are bucking the downtrend.

Shares of Arista Networks (ANET) have spiked by 22.0 percent after the company reported second quarter results that beat analyst estimates on both the top and bottom lines.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Tuesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.9 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dipped by 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index tumbled by 1.2 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have come under pressure after ending the previous session slightly higher. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 9.0 basis points at 4.049 percent.

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