After seeing considerable strength earlier in the session, stocks have shown a substantial move back to the downside over the course of afternoon trading on Wednesday. The major averages have pulled back well off their highs for the session and into negative territory.
The pullback by the markets is partly due to a negative reaction to the release of the results of the Treasury Department's auction of $34 billion worth of five-year notes. The auction drew a yield of 1.849 percent and a bid-to-cover ratio of 2.02.
With the bid-to-cover ratio, an indicator of demand, coming in below the 2.21 from the Treasury's previous auction of $32 billion in five-year notes last month, the auction results have raised some concerns about demand for U.S. government debt.
The upward move seen earlier in the session came as traders reacted to the release of some better than expected economic data, including another better than expected housing market report.
Before the start of trading, the Commerce Department released a report revealing that durable goods orders unexpectedly showed a substantial increase in the month of February after falling in each of the six previous months.
The report showed that durable goods orders jumped 3.4 percent in February after falling by a revised 7.3 percent in January. Economists had been expecting durable goods orders to fall by 2.5 percent compared to the 4.5 percent decrease that had been reported for the previous month.
Separately, the Commerce Department released a report showing an unexpected in increase in new home sales in the month of February.
The report showed that new home sales rose 4.7 percent to an annual rate of 337,000 in February from an upwardly revised January rate of 322,000. The results surprised economists, who had been expecting sales to fall to 300,000 from the 309,000 originally reported for the previous month.
While Patrick Newport, a U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, noted that the report is the fifth better than expected housing report released in the past eight days, he said that it is too soon to call a bottom in the housing market, suggesting that recent housing numbers were influenced by weather.
The major averages are currently lingering below the unchanged line, although they are off their lows for the session. The Dow is currently down 25.89 at 7,634.08, the Nasdaq is down 10.47 at 1,506.05 and the S&P 500 is down 4.58 at 801.67.
A majority of the Dow components have moved into negative territory over the course of the afternoon, contributing to the downturn by the blue chip index.
General Motors (GM) is helping to lead the Dow lower, with the auto giant currently down 9.7 percent. With the loss, GM is pulling back further off the nearly two-month closing high that it set on Monday.
Shares of Citigroup (C) have also come under considerable selling pressure after seeing some strength earlier in the session. The financial services giant is currently down 8 percent.
Caterpillar (CAT), American Express (AXP), and Verizon (VZ) are among the other Dow components posting notable losses, falling more than 3 percent each.
Meanwhile, a strong gain by Alcoa (AA) is helping to limit the downside for the Dow, with the aluminum producer currently up 2.2 percent. Pfizer (PFE) and Boeing (BA) are also holding onto strong gains.
As the broader markets fall from grace, many of the major sectors have also turned lower. Significant weakness has emerged in the computer hardware sector, as reflected by the 2.6 percent decline being shown by the Amex Computer Hardware Index.
With the decline, the computer hardware index is pulling back well off the nearly six-month closing high it hit in the previous session.
Real estate, railroad, and oil services stocks have also come under considerable selling pressure, with the Morgan Stanley REIT Index down 4.8 percent, while the Dow Jones Railroads Index and the Philadelphia Oil Services Index are down 4.3 percent and 3 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, gold and health insurance stocks are holding onto some of their earlier gains. The Amex Gold Bugs Index and the Morgan Stanley Healthcare Payor Index are up 2.6 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific market turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday. While Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index fell 0.1 percent, South Korea's KOSPI posted a gain of 0.6 percent.
The major European markets also closed mixed on the day. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index ended the session down 0.3 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index posted gains of 0.7 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries have shown a notable move to the downside following the weak demand for the five-year note auction. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark 10-year note is currently up 12.3 basis points at 2.777 percent.
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