US stocks were mostly lower, declining for the third consecutive trading session as traders assessed the impact of weaker than expected orders for durable goods in February and the merger between Kraft and Heinz.
The S&P 500 Index inched 2 points or 0.2% lower 2088.34 with six of its ten major sectors trading in the red in morning trading
The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 58 points or 0.3% to 17,955 as of 10.00 a.m. Eastern time. The Nasdaq Composite slid 23 points 0.6% to 4971. This is the technology-heavy Nasdaq’s third straight loss-the longest since January.
“We’re bouncing around, and that has more to do with sector rotation and asset allocation going into quarter-end than with any one number,” Michael Block, chief equity strategist at Rhino Trading Partners LLC in New York, told Bloomberg in a phone interview.
“There’s a lot of macro panic and confusion out there, and that’s not the kind of landscape the Fed wants to start being hawkish with.”
The weakness was attributed to a report by the US Commerce Department earlier in the day that said that orders for durable goods slipped 1.4% in February. Analysts polled by the Wall Street Journal had forecast a 2% gain.
Other details in the report were equally downcast with reports that orders for durable goods in January were weaker than initially reported.
“Durable goods orders aren’t always market-moving data, but the report was attracting attention in light of the lack of other news,” J.T. Cacciabaudo, head of equity trading at Sterne Agee, told the Wall Street Journal.
“The fact that durable goods fell, and was significantly below the forecast, is a big deal only because there’s nothing else to look at,” he said.
In corporate news, Kraft Foods shot 32% before the bell after announcing a merger agreement with ketchup giant H,J Heinz Co which is co-owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc and 3G Capital.
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