Benchmarks erased initial losses to end Wednesday’s trading session on a mixed note. During the morning session, markets had slipped following a selloff in Asian and European equities over growing concerns about the Chinese economy. The lingering tension in Ukraine also dented the mood of the investors. However, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq entered the positive territory late in the afternoon banking on a rally in oil refineries, mining and technology stocks.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (:DJI) declined 0.1% to close Wednesday’s trading session at 16,340.08. The Standard & Poor (S&P 500) edged up a tad 0.03% to finish at 1,868.20. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.4% to 4,323.33. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (:VIX) decreased 2.2% to settle at 14.47. Total volume on the New York Stock Exchange was 3.2 billion shares. Declining stocks were outnumbered by advancing stocks on the NYSE. For 41% stocks that declined, 56% advanced.
The benchmarks hovered in the negative zone for most of the day. Investors’ mood continued to be bearish following the larger-than-expected decline in Chinese exports reported on Monday. This sparked concerns among investors of a possible slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy. China’s exports plunged 18.1% year over year in February and its imports rose 10.1% for the month. This resulted in a trade deficit of $22.98 billion in February.
Investors also gauged the latest developments in Crimea. Early last week, escalating political tension between Ukraine and Russia over the Crimean region had dragged the benchmarks down to their worst selloffs in about a month. However, the tension subsided to some extent after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he saw no need to use armed forces in Crimea for the moment.
On Tuesday, Ukraine government asked for Western help. European Union members responded by agreeing to impose sanctions on Russia in the form of travel restrictions and freezing assets against the ones violating the sovereignty of Ukraine. European markets such as Germany’s DAX, Great Britain’s FTSE and France’s CAC all registered a loss of about 1%.
Investors showed interest in buying oil refinery stocks on Wednesday. Tesoro Corporation (NYSE:TSO) rose 4.1%, the biggest jump among the S&P 500 components.
Shares of Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE:CLF) and Newmont Mining Corporation (NYSE:NEM) rallied 2.4% and 2.7%, respectively after investors showed interest in buying up mining companies.
Tech giants Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) gained 0.6%, 0.7% and 1.1%, respectively. Overall the Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) rose 0.2%.
Six out of ten sectors of the S&P 500 ended in red. The Industrial Select Sector SPDR (XLI) led the decline as the sector decreased 0.2%. Key stocks from the sector such as General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE:HON), Danaher Corp. (NYSE:DHR) and Emerson Electric Co. (NYSE:EMR) fell 0.5%, 0.9%, 0.3%, 0.8% and 0.6%, respectively.
Among the advancing sectors, Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU) gained 1.3%. Top holdings from the sector such as Duke Energy Corporation (NYSE:DUK), Dominion Resources, Inc. (NYSE:D), NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE), Southern Company (NYSE:SO) and Exelon Corporation (NYSE:EXC) increased 1.3%, 1.4%, 1.4%, 1.4% and 1.1%, respectively.
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