Stocks Move Mostly Lower In Morning Trading

Stocks have moved mostly lower in morning trading on Thursday following the mixed performance seen in the previous session. The major averages have all moved to the downside, with the Dow and the S&P 500 pulling back off yesterday’s record closing highs.

Currently, the major averages remain in the red, although the Dow is down just 14.50 points or 0.1 percent at 22,398.09. The Nasdaq is down 45.16 points or 0.7 percent at 6,410.89, and the S&P 500 is down 6.65 points or 0.3 percent at 2,501.59.

The weakness on Wall Street comes as traders continue to digest the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy announcement on Wednesday, when the Fed left interest rates unchanged but signaled another rate hike is likely this year.

The Fed’s projections pointed to a quarter basis point rate increase later this year, with the rate hike widely expected to come at the December meeting.

The central bank also revealed that it will begin shrinking its $4.5 trillion balance sheet in October, initially allowing $10 billion in bonds to roll off each month.

In her subsequent press conference, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the process of winding down the balance sheet would be gradual and predictable.

On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing an unexpected decrease in initial jobless claims in the week ended September 16th.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 259,000, a decrease of 23,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 282,000.

The continued decrease surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to climb to 300,000 from the 284,000 originally reported for the previous week.

A separate report released by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve showed an unexpected improvement in regional manufacturing conditions in the month of September.

The Philly Fed said its index for current manufacturing activity rose to 23.8 in September from 18.9 in August, with a positive reading indicating growth. Economists had expected the index to drop to 17.2.

The Conference Board also released a report showing a bigger than expected increase by its index of leading economic indicators.

The leading economic index climbed by 0.4 percent in August after rising by 0.3 percent in July. Economists had expected the index to edge up by 0.2 percent.

Steel stocks have shown a significant move to the downside in morning trading, dragging the NYSE Arca Steel Index down by 1.7 percent. Olympic Steel (ZEUS) and U.S. Steel (X) are posting notable losses.

Oil service and…

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