By Tanya Agrawal
U.S. stocks steadied in late morning trading on Thursday, with the S&P 500 on track to break its longest losing streak in five years, although a fall in Facebook's shares capped gains.Facebook (FB.O) fell as much as 5.5 percent to a more than three-month low of $120.12 after the social media giant warned that revenue growth would slow this quarter. The stock was the biggest drag on the S&P and the Nasdaq.Tension in markets, rattled by U.S. election nerves, also eased after a UK court ruling that parliament must approve a government decision to trigger Brexit.The S&P 500 ended lower on Wednesday for a seventh straight session as the Federal Reserve signaled it could hike interest rates in December and the uncertainty surrounding the U.S. election.The U.S. central bank held interest rates steady, but said the economy had gained steam and job gains remained solid. Policymakers also expressed more optimism that inflation was moving towards their 2 percent target.Investors have been unnerved by the signs that the U.S. presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump was tightening just days before the vote.While some polls put Trump ahead on Tuesday, an average of polls compiled by the RealClearPolitics website showed Clinton retaining a slight lead. A Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll released late on Wednesday showed Clinton ahead by 6 percentage points among likely voters.
"Stocks are going to be more volatile and will move sideways with a slight downward bias until next week because the election seem incredibly tight and there's a lack of political visibility," said John Brady, managing director at R.J. O’Brien & Associates in Chicago."The market is nervous and in the short-term people will move to the sidelines."At 11:10 a.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 32.53 points, or 0.18 percent, at 17,992.17.The S&P 500 .SPX was up 2.46 points, or 0.12 percent, at 2,100.4.
The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 6.61 points, or 0.13 percent, at 5,098.96.Eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, with the telecommunications index's .SPLRCL 0.86 percent rise leading the advancers.Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA.O) rose 6.7 percent to $27.65 after it reported first-quarter profit that topped Wall Street expectations. The stock was among those that powered the S&P and the Nasdaq.
Data on Thursday showed U.S. services industry activity cooled in October amid a slowdown in new orders and hiring, suggesting a moderation in economic growth early in the fourth quarter.Fitbit (FIT.N) sank as much as 30.3 percent to a record low of $8.93 after the wearable fitness device maker's revenue forecast for the key holiday shopping quarter fell well below estimates.American International Group (AIG.N) fell 4.6 percent to $57.74 after the insurer's quarterly profit missed expectations.Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,600 to 1,184. On the Nasdaq, 1,322 issues rose and 1,237 fell.The S&P 500 index showed two new 52-week highs and 12 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 23 new highs and 111 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Anil D'Silva)
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