Stocks have seen some further downside over the course of the afternoon trading on Friday, with the major averages moving more firmly into negative territory after showing a notable decline in early trading. Some of the weakness comes as investors cash in on the recent rally.
In an interview with RTT News, Chuck Lieberman, chief investment officer for Advisors Capital Management, explained why he remains bullish despite the market's weakness. I think the bear market is really over, Lieberman said. The underlying trend now is firmly up.
Lieberman said he is using pullbacks as buying opportunities, calling the market very attractive and stocks very cheap. We think that stock prices will be considerably higher six months or a year out, he added.
In economic news, the Commerce Department released its report on personal income and spending in the month of February earlier in the day, showing that spending increased for the second consecutive month.
The report showed that personal spending rose 0.2 percent in February following an upwardly revised 1.0 percent increase in January. The modest increase in spending came in line with the expectations of economists.
At the same time, the Commerce Department said that personal income edged down 0.2 in February after a downwardly revised 0.2 percent increase in the previous month. Economists had been expecting a slightly more modest 0.1 percent decrease.
The final reading of the Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for March was also released earlier, showing a revised reading of 57.3. Economists had expected the consumer sentiment index to be lifted to 56.8 from the mid-month reading of 56.6.
Meanwhile, President Obama's meeting with the CEOs of some of the nation's largest banks has come to a close. According to the CEOs, the meeting was all business as Obama looked to gain a better understanding of how the financial sector is performing.
In recent trading, the major averages have moved well off their new lows for the session, although they continue to post notable losses. The Dow is currently down 133.81 at 7,790.75, the Nasdaq is down 30.89 at 1,556.11 and the S&P 500 is down 12.97 at 819.89.
The steep loss being shown by the Dow comes as the vast majority of the components of the blue chip index are posting losses on the day.
IBM (IBM) is turning in one of the Dow's worst performances of the day, with the tech giant falling 5.4 percent after ending the previous session at a nearly six-year closing high.
Citigroup (C) is also posting a substantial loss on the day, down 6.4 percent. Additionally, American Express (AXP), Alcoa (AA), and JP Morgan (JPM) are also suffering notable weakness.
At the other end of the spectrum, General Motors (GM) is currently posting a 5.6 percent gain, although it has moved well off the two-month intraday high it set earlier in the session. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Coca-Cola (KO), and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) are posting modest gains.
Most of the major sectors have moved lower over the course of the session, contributing to the weakness in the broader markets. Some of the biggest losses of the session are coming out of the oil services sector.
The weakness in the oil service sector comes as the price of crude oil falls $1.99 to $52.35 a barrel. The decline in the price of crude has helped drive the Philadelphia Oil Services Index down 3.percent, pulling back further off a recent nearly three-month closing high.
Real estate, software, and natural gas stocks are also suffering considerable losses on the day, with the Morgan Stanley REIT Index down 3.6 percent, while the Amex Software Index and the Amex Natural Gas Index post losses of 3.5 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.
In overseas trading, the stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Friday. While Japan's Nikkei 225 Index closed down 0.1 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended the day up 0.1 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets ended the session considerably lower. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index ended the day with a 0.7 percent loss, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index closed down 1.8 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries have turned lower after seeing some strength earlier in the session, driving the yield on the benchmark 10-year note up 3 basis points to 2.763 percent.
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