- China, Ukraine concerns dampen sentiment
- Obama to meet with Yatsenyuk
- No major economic data on tap
Dow Jones: -0.29%
S&P 500: -0.38%
US stocks were falling for a third straight day on Wednesday amid a lack of economic data, as investors showed concerns about the Chinese economy and tensions in Ukraine.
The S&P 500, which hit a record high of 1,878.04 on Friday, was trading 0.4% lower early on. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3% while the Nasdaq lost 0.4%.
"What we're seeing now is markets on the whole being driven by investor sentiment and as long as we don't see anything positive to act as a distraction from Ukraine and China, sentiment is likely to remain low, as we're seeing again today," said Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari.
The sole economic indicator scheduled for release today is the federal government's Treasury statement for the month of February, due at 19:00.
China, Ukraine in focus
Following data earlier this week from China which revealed a surprise trade deficit in February as exports slumped, worries over credit conditions were ignited by reports of a possible second onshore debt default by another solar power firm in the country.
Investors were also looking ahead to data due tomorrow which is likely to show that Chinese industrial output growth eased slightly last month.
In parallel, forward contracts on the Chinese yuan have dropped to five-month lows. The unexpected depreciation in the currency places pressure on the use of commodities like copper as collateral for credit and financing costs for the lowest rated firms more generally.
Ukraine also continued to be a focal point for markets today as Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk meets with US President Barack Obama in Washington. The meeting comes ahead of the looming Crimea referendum on March 16th on whether or not to split from Ukraine and join Russia.
G7 leaders released a statement today, calling on Russia to "immediately halt" efforts to annex Crimea given that it is a violation of the UN Charter. They threatened to "take further action, individually and collectively" if Russia supports the referendum vote.
Express disappoints with Q4 results, 2014 outlook
Fashion retailer Express dropped sharply after the company admitted it has had an "extremely difficult" start to 2014 with falling in-store traffic leading to a decline in sales. The firm, which missed expectations with its fourth-quarter results, said that earnings would be between $1.03-1.23 a share this year, compared with the $1.59-a-share consensus forecast.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were extending losses made yesterday after the government revealed plans to wind down the federally-controlled mortgage firms.
A number of heavyweight tech stocks were trading in the red today, including Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft.
EPL Oil & Gas soared 29% after Energy XXI agreed to buy it for $1.5bn.
Front month West Texas crude futures were down by 1.4% at $98.67 a barrel in NYMEX trading.
10-year US Treasury yields were down four basis points at 2.73%.