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US Stocks & Bonds Fall Before Full Onset of Q1 Earnings

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US stocks and bonds fell ahead of the earnings season, with technology shares under pressure, while investors looked past the drop in the initial jobless claims to a 49.5-year low.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 38.56 points, or 0.15%, with the S&P 500 Index down by 0.10%, and the Nasdaq lower by 0.17% intraday. While financials were the biggest gainers, technology stocks slumped by almost 1%, with shares such as Apple (AAPL), eBay (EBAY) and Tesla (TSLA) trading lower.

The US 10-year yield climbed by two basis point to 2.49%, higher than the 2.35% touched in recent weeks but not firmly on an upward trend amid a backdrop that includes the S&P 500 Index facing its first quarterly earnings for which expectations are for a mid-single-digit decline, the first since 2016. The dollar was slightly higher against the euro.

In addition to the quarterly earnings, the market keenly awaits a trade agreement between the US and China. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was cited as saying on CNBC Wednesday that Washington and Beijing have “pretty much agreed on an enforcement mechanism” for when a deal is struck. “We are hopeful we can do this quickly, but we are not going to set an arbitrary deadline.”

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims slumped by 8,000 — down for four consecutive weeks — to a seasonally adjusted 196,000 over a week to April 6. That’s the lowest level since October 1969 and a surprise for economists who had forecast in a Reuters’ poll that claims would rise to 211,000.

Meanwhile, the Core Producer Price Index, which excludes food, energy and trade services, was unchanged in March. It increased by 2% over a year to the end of March, the slowest pace of annual increase since August 2017, putting into perspective the Federal Reserve minutes released Wednesday for the March 19-20 meeting at which policymakers decided not to raise interest rates this year.

The pound and UK stocks traded slightly lower intraday after the European Union announced a six-month extension to the April 12 deadline for Britain to leave the world’s largest trading bloc, while Prime Minister Theresa May hinted in her statement to the parliament that the long-awaited movement toward a customs union could be in the cards, setting the stage for a deal with the nation’s largest opposition party, Labour.

In corporate news, shares of Fastenal (FAST) jumped more than 5% — the top performer in the S&P 500 Index — after the company reported better-than-expected first quarter earnings and revenue that met views on Thursday. PagerDuty’s (PD) surged 35% following its initial-public-offering Thursday.

Shares of Newmont Mining (NEM) fell by more than 1% after stockholders approved the firm’s $10 billion acquisition of Goldcorp (GG), which is set to create the world’s biggest gold producer.

Crude oil was down $0.68 to $63.83 per barrel after the Energy Information Administration said Wednesday stockpiles in the US soared by 7 million barrels to 456.6 million barrels last week, its highest level in 17 months. Natural gas was down $0.01 to $2.69 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $13.90 to $1,300.00 an ounce, while silver was down $0.02 to $15.02 an ounce. Copper was down $0.02 to $2.90 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 0.97% to $13.28 with the United States Natural Gas Fund down 0.08% to $23.72. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 1.13% to 22.39 while SPDR Gold Shares was down 0.93% to $122.38. The iShares Silver Trust was down 1.19% to $14.11.

Here’s where the markets stood at mid-day:
US MARKETS
NYSE Composite Index was down 20.72 points (-0.16%) to 12,866.01
Dow Jones Industrial Index was down 38.56 points (-0.15%) to 26,119.60
S&P 500 was down 2.72 points (+0.10%) to 2,885.10
Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.50 points (-0.01%) to 7,963.98

GLOBAL SENTIMENT
FTSE 100 was down 2.67 points (-0.05%) to 7,417.88
DAX was up 42.06 points (+0.35%) to 11,947.97
CAC 40 was up 41.33 points (+0.76%) to 5,491.21
Nikkei 225 was up 23.81 points (+0.11%) to 21,711.38
Hang Seng Index was down 280.11 points (-0.93%) to 29,839.45
Shanghai China Composite Index was down 51.97 points (-1.60%) to 3,189.96

NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index was down 14.69 points (-0.13%) to 10,934.67
NYSE Financial Sector Index was up 34.65 points (+0.45%) to 7,895.13
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index was down 106.58 points (-0.66%) to 15,954.81

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) GLG (+65.02%) after the firm named Eric Finnsson, with 30 years of international finance experience, as CFO

(+) FRSH (+31.19%) as MTY Food Group to acquire Papa Murphy’s in a $190 million cash deal

(+) PHUN (+19.35%) wins US patent for mobile device localization

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) CJJD (-43.37%) drugstores tumble after offering shares at 19% discount

(-) LEDS (-13.90%) as net loss shrank by 3 cents to $0.24 for the three months ended Feb. 28

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