Stocks Extending Pullback Amid Geopolitical Concerns

Extending the pullback seen over the two previous sessions, stocks have come under pressure in morning trading on Thursday. The major averages have slid firmly into negative territory, with the Dow and the S&P 500 pulling back further off Monday’s record closing highs.

In recent trading, the major averages have climbed off their worst levels, although they remain firmly negative. The Dow is down 98.98 points or 0.5 percent at 21,949.72, the Nasdaq is down 65.83 points or 1 percent at 6,286.50 and the S&P 500 is down 16.77 points or 0.7 percent at 2,457.25.

Geopolitical concerns continue to weigh on Wall Street amid an ongoing escalation in tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.

A statement from the North Korean military called President Donald Trump’s warning that the communist nation would face “fire and fury” if it continued its provocations a “load of nonsense.”

North Korea claimed “only absolute force” can work on someone as “bereft of reason” as Trump and detailed plans to fire a salvo of missiles into waters around the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.

The rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea has continued to heat up, leading traders to look to safe havens such as gold and treasuries.

The focus on North Korea has largely overshadowed a Labor Department report showing an unexpected drop in U.S. producer prices in the month of July.

The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand edged down by 0.1 percent in July after inching up by 0.1 percent in June. Economists had expected another 0.1 percent uptick.

Excluding food and energy prices, core producer prices still dipped by 0.1 percent in July after creeping up by 0.1 percent in June. Core prices had been expected to rise by 0.2 percent.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed an unexpected uptick in initial jobless claims in the week ended August 5th.

The report said initial jobless claims crept up to 244,000, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 241,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to come in unchanged compared to the 240,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Biotechnology stocks are turning in some of the market’s worst performances in morning trading, resulting in a 1.6 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index. The index has fallen to its lowest intraday level in almost a month.

Computer hardware, semiconductor, and retail stocks are also seeing considerable weakness, while gold stocks are among the few groups…

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