RTTNews - After a sell-off at the opening bell, stocks have staged a recovery attempt and are trading just below the unchanged mark in mid-morning trading on Wednesday. The major averages are all in negative territory by modest margins, offsetting some of yesterday's gains.

The move comes as there is no first-tier economic data on the day, with some market focus turning to the latest set of quarterly results and the EIA Petroleum Inventories report.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) reported third quarter earnings of $0.91 per share after the bell Tuesday, beating the consensus estimate of $0.90 per share. The company also said expects to report fourth quarter earnings of $1.12 per share compared to the forecast of $1.07 per share.

Deere & Co. (DE) reported third-quarter net income of $0.99 per share, compared with $1.32 per share in the same period last year. The results topped Wall Street estimates of $0.57 per share.

Deere's total net sales and revenues declined to $5.89 billion from $7.74 billion in the prior year quarter but still beat forecasts of $5.25 billion. Looking forward, Deere said it expects full year net income of $1.1 billion despite expectations for the largest single-year sales decline in at least 50 years.

BJ's Wholesale Club (BJ) reported second quarter net income of $0.64 per share, compared to $0.61 per share in the prior year quarter. Analysts had expected the firm to earn $0.62 per share.

On the corporate front, consumer electronics giant Sony Corp. (SNE) said that it has reduced the price of its PlayStation 3 videogame console by about 25 percent or $100 to $299, effective Tuesday. The company also unveiled a slimmer version of the PS3 with a 120GB Hard Disk Drive or HDD, which will be available for the same price beginning September 1.

In other news, Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, chief economist of Ford Motor Co. (F), was quoted as saying that economic indicators in the U.S are showing that a recovery is already underway and that auto sales seem to be stabilizing. Hughes-Cromwick also predicted that Ford would see an improvement in sales in 2010.

The major averages have given back some ground in the past few minutes, although they remain well off their lows for the session. The Dow is currently down 34.01 at 9,183.93, the Nasdaq is down 8.86 at 1,947.06 and the S&P 500 is down 3.72 at 985.95.

Sector News

The major sector indices are mostly in negative territory, contributing to the retreat by the equity markets. The choppy trading in recent sessions and the day's weak volume has largely trapped a majority of the indices in their recent ranges.

Commercial real estate stocks are turning in some of the day's more disappointing performances, with the Morgan Stanley REIT Index sliding by 1.6 percent. With the loss, the index has offset the gain it posted on Tuesday, moving further off the nine-month high set earlier this month.

Additionally, steel, electronic storage, defense and semiconductor stocks are also retreating by notable margins.

Meanwhile, gold and biotechnology stocks have moved to the upside over the course of the morning. The NYSE Gold Bugs Index is up by 1.2 percent and the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index is up by 0.8 percent.

Stocks Driven By Analyst Comments

D.R. Horton (DHI) is retreating in mid-morning trading after Stiefel Nicolaus downgraded the firm from Hold to Sell. The broker said that the stocks has advanced too sharply in recent weeks. The stock is down by 2.4 percent, retreating further away from the ten-month closing high reached earlier this month.

Alcoa (AA) is also moving lower after Goldman Sachs lowered its rating on the stock to Neutral from its Americas Buy List. The broker cited valuation and the firm's historically high inventories as reasons for the downgrade. Shares of the aluminum producer are falling by 3.6 percent.

On the other hand, American Axle (AXL) is on the rise following an upgrade by Credit Suisse, which raised its rating on the stock to Outperform from Neutral. The broker also raised the stock's target price to $8 from $5. The stock is surging for a second straight session, rising 17.1 percent to reach a fresh ten-month intraday high.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region finished notably lower on Wednesday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.8 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index declined by 1.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have turned mixed, with the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index trading just above the unchanged mark, while the German DAX Index is drifting lower by a slim margin.

In the bond markets, treasuries are showing notable gains amid the retreat on Wall Street. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note is trading at 3.435 percent, posting loss of 9.1 basis points.

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