Stocks Down Sharply in Mid-Day Trading

Stocks floated in red territory by mid-day trade on Friday as investors remained risk-averse due to growing concerns on the outcome of congressional negotiations, concerning the issue of “fiscal cliff”.

At last check, the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index edged down 0.51%; the Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.30% while the S&P 500 Index fell 0.48%.

Among all key S&P 500 sectors, materials and energy stocks sunk while utilities gained.

On what is seen as a last-ditch effort by the White House to save the U.S. economy from dreaded spending cuts and across-the-board tax hikes , President Obama has called up a meeting  on Friday with Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker, John Boehner and Democratic House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi.

On economic data front, a data provided by the National Association of Realtors showed that pending home-sales climbed 1.7 percent in November, a fastest pace of growth in more than last 2 ½ years.

Institute for Supply Management’s Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, a gauge on manufacturing activities in the Midwest region, showed a reading of 51.6 in December up from 50.4 in previous month and beating economists’ consensus estimate for reading of 51.

Elsewhere in Europe, all leading benchmark indexes ended lower as the market sentiment was weighed down by “fiscal cliff” worries. The pan European Stoxx 600 Index lost 0.65% while FTSE ended lower 0.49%. France’s CAC 40 slumped 1.47% after GDP growth in the third quarter was downwardly revised to 0.1% from initial estimate of 0.2%.

In some corporate news, Magnum Hunter Resources (NYSE: MHR) gained 2.78% (at last check) after the Company announced encouraging results from a well-drilling in the Eagle Ford Shale, located in South Texas.

Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS) rallied on Friday after British publisher Pearson said it will acquire a 5 percent stake in the bookstore chain’s digital Nook and college bookstore businesses in a deal estimated at $89.5 million.

edliston

edliston

Ed Liston is a senior contributing editor at TheStockMarketWatch.com. An active market watcher and investor, Ed guides an independent team of experienced analysts and writes for multiple stock trader publications. He is widely quoted in various financial publications on the Internet. When Ed is not writing about stocks, investing in stocks, talking about stocks, or otherwise doing something stock related, he likes to go sailing and fishing in his yacht.