U.S. stocks lack direction as tech stocks weigh, data disappoints

Wall Street was unable to hold earlier gains as tech stocks once again weighed on sentiment Monday and investors saw little encouragement from the day’s macro data.

At 11:36AM ET (15:36GMT), the Dow Jones advanced 24 points, or 0.11%, the S&P 500 inched up less than a point or 0.01%, while the Nasdaq Composite traded down 30 points, or 0.47%.

Despite an initial open with solid gains across the three major indices, buying enthusiasm petered out as trading reached the midday mark.

The Nasdaq turned red as tech stocks once again sold off, pulling both the Dow, that had gained as much as 100 points, and the S&P back towards the unchanged mark.

In the major economic report for Monday, investors found little solace as durable goods orders slumped more than forecast and an expected recovery in the core reading was much weaker than consensus estimates.

The dollar slipped against major rivals on Monday as market participants digested the data and the most recent remarks from Federal Reserve (Fed) policymakers.

Earlier on Monday, San Francisco Fed president John Williams reiterated his stance that rates should move higher gradually in an effort to maintain sustainable economic growth.

Fed governor Jerome Powell made no comments on monetary policy or the outlook for the U.S. economy in a speech that was largely a rehash of last week’s remarks that he believed there was room to ease some regulations on banks.

New York Fed chief William Dudley continued his call for more tightening, explaining that easing financial conditions justified the further removal of accommodation.

As markets wait for Fed chair Janet Yellen’s speech on global economics Tuesday for any new insight on the timing of when the Fed will next raise interest rates and/or begin the reduction of its $4.5 trillion balance sheet, they may find an appetizer as former head of the U.S. central bank Ben Bernanke delivers a speech titled “When growth is not enough” at 1:30PM ET (17:30GMT).

Markets continue to disagree with the Fed’s projection that it will hike rates once more this year, pricing the odds of another increase by December at just 39%, according to Investing.com’s Fed Rate Monitor Tool.

In commodities markets, gold remained under pressure on Monday although the precious metal recovered from session lows.

A large sell order sent gold tumbling 1.7% in just seconds, though most analysts suggested that the trade was likely a mistake.

Meanwhile, oil had trouble finding direction on Monday as an early rebound after five straight weeks of losses seemed to fade as black gold remained under pressure from constantly increasing U.S. shale production.

Although Brent managed to return to positive territory after losses in early morning trade, both the London barrel and West Texas Intermediate remained far from the session’s earlier recovery.

U.S. crude futures gained 0.37% to $43.17 by 11:40AM ET (15:40GMT), while Brent oil rose 0.11% to $45.80.

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