U.S. Stocks Give Back Ground After Seeing Initial Strength

After moving higher at the start of trading on Monday, stocks have given back ground over the course of the morning. The major averages have pulled back well off their highs of the session and into negative territory.

Currently, the major averages all remain in the red, although the Nasdaq is down just 10.67 points or 0.1 percent at 12,877.61. The Dow is down 221.72 points or 0.7 percent at 30,384.76 and the S&P 500 is down 16.52 points or 0.4 percent at 3,739.55.

Upward momentum to start the New Year contributed to the initial strength on Wall Street, although buying interest waned shortly after the open.

The subsequent pullback partly reflected profit taking after the Dow and the S&P 500 reached new record intraday highs.

Traders may also have been reluctant to continue pushing stocks higher amid uncertainty ahead of two key Senate runoffs in Georgia on Tuesday.

The outcome of the runoff elections will determine which party controls the Senate and could have a major impact on what President-elect Joe Biden is able to accomplish.

Traders may also be looking ahead to Friday’s closely watched monthly jobs report, which is expected to show a continued slowdown in the pace of job growth in the month of December.

On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing a continued increase in construction spending in the month of November.

The report said construction spending climbed by 0.9 percent to an annual rate of $1.459 trillion in November after surging up by 1.6 percent to a revised rate of $1.447 trillion in October.

Economists had expected construction spending to increase by 1.0 percent compared to the 1.3 percent jump originally reported for the previous month.

Airline stocks have moved sharply lower on the day, resulting in a 3.6 percent nosedive by the NYSE Arca Airline Index.

Commercial real estate, housing and utilities stocks have also shown notable moves to the downside over the course of the morning.

On the other hand, gold stocks have skyrocketed along with the price of the precious metal, driving the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index up by 6 percent.

The rally by gold stocks comes as the price of gold for February delivery is soaring $47.80 to $1,942.90 an ounce amid a drop in the value of the U.S. dollar.

Steel, oil service and semiconductor stocks are also seeing considerable strength in morning trading, helping to limit the downside for the broader markets.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Monday, although Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index bucked the uptrend and slid by 0.7 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index advanced by 0.9 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi spiked by 2.5 percent.

The major European markets have also shown strong moves to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has surged up by 2.7 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 1.3 percent and the German DAX Index is up by 0.7 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have climbed well off their lows of the session but continue to see modest weakness. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 1 basis point at 0.927 percent.

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