RTTNews - Stocks have been unable to sustain any significant moves in mid-morning trading on Wednesday, as traders digest a batch of mixed economic reports. The major averages have been bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line after ending the previous session sharply lower.

Traders have presented with a slew of economic data, including a Commerce Department report showing that factory orders increased by less than economists had been expecting in July.

The report showed that orders for manufactured goods increased by 1.3 percent in July following a revised 0.9 percent increase in June. Economists had expected orders to increase by 2.2 percent compared to the 0.4 percent growth originally reported for the previous month.

Ahead of the opening bell, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP) said that non-farm private employment fell by 298,000 jobs in August following a revised decrease of 360,000 jobs in July. Economists had expected a decrease of about 246,000 jobs compared to the loss of 371,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

While employment fell by more than economists had been anticipating, the loss of jobs in August still marked the smallest drop in employment since September of 2008.

Separately, the Labor Department released its revised report on labor productivity in the second quarter, showing that productivity increased by more than previously estimated amid a smaller than expected drop in output.

Later today, the minutes of the Federal Reserve's August meeting will be in focus, with traders looking for the Fed's most recent economic outlook. The minutes are scheduled to be released at 2:00 p.m. ET.

In corporate news, video-game publisher Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) said Tuesday after the markets closed that it swung to a third quarter loss, as revenue dropped 68 percent from last year, when it benefited from the performance of its blockbuster title Grand Theft Auto IV.

Filtration systems maker Donaldson Co. (DCI) said that its fourth quarter profit declined by 51.5 percent from last year, hurt by restructuring expenses and the negative impact of foreign currency translation.

Meanwhile, London-based British Petroleum (BP) revealed that it has made a giant oil discovery at its Tiber Prospect in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The well was drilled in Keathley Canyon block 102.

The major averages have extended their choppy movement in recent trading and are currently turning in a mixed performance. While the Nasdaq is currently up 1.30 at 1,970.19, the Dow is down 8.77 at 9,301.83 and the S&P 500 is down 1.40 at 996.64.

Sector News

Despite the lackluster performance by the broader markets, housing stocks are posting substantial losses, with the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index currently posting a 1.6 percent loss. The index is pulling back further off of the eleven-month closing high set late last month.

Significant weakness is also visible among networking and banking stocks, with the NYSE Arca Networking Index and the Kbw Bank Index down by 1.6 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

The networking index is retreating further away from a recent eleven-month closing high, while the banking index is pulling back further off a nine-month closing high.

Meanwhile, significant strength is visible among health insurance stocks, with the Morgan Stanley Healthcare Payor Index up by 3.3 percent, bouncing off of a three-week low set in the previous session.

Gold stocks are also moving higher, as reflected by the 4.3 percent gain being show by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index. The strength in the gold sector comes amid a notable increase by the price of gold.

Stocks Driven By Analyst Comments

Novavax (NVAX) is moving lower in mid-morning trading after Oppenheimer downgraded the stock from Outperform to Perform. The broker cited the stock moving past its six-dollar price target as a reason for the downgrade. The stock is down by 8.4 percent, backing off of a three and a half year high set on Tuesday.

Shares of Smith International Inc. (SII) are also moving lower following a downgrade by FBR Capital to Market Perform from Outperform. The broker also lowered the target price on the stock to $38 from $52. The stock is down by 5.3 percent, falling to a two-week intraday low.

On the other hand, Textron Inc. (TXT) is moving higher after being upgraded by Goldman Sachs to Buy from Neutral. The broker said the firm's businesses are likely headed for an uptrend. The stock is up by 4.8 percent, poised to close at a ten-month high.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region closed mostly lower on Wednesday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed down by 2.4 percent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell by 1.8 percent.

The major European markets are also moving lower, with the French CAC 40 and German DAX Index falling by 0.8 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 is down by 0.5 percent.

In the bond markets, treasuries are hovering in positive territory amid the uncertainty on Wall Street. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note is trading at 3.364 percent, posting a loss of 1.1 basis points.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com