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Wednesday's Market Wrap: Major Averages Record Small Losses For Second Consecutive Day

The U.S. stock market sold off on Wednesday for the second straight day after a strong opening to the week on Monday. Losses were modest, but the vast majority of sectors finished the trading session in the red, led by energy, which fell 1.37 percent and basic materials stocks, which lost 1.24 percent. The losses are a part of a broader sell-off in commodities in recent days.

Equity gainers on the day included Chico's FAS, Inc. CHS 12.21%, which surged more than 12 percent on the day, and Himax Technologies HIMX 8.59%, which climbed almost 9 percent in the wake of an afternoon rally. Losers included NCI Building Systems Inc. NCS 14.99%, which fell 15 percent after earnings, and H&R Block inc HRB 10.5%, which fell almost 11 percent on the day after its Q1 results.

Major Averages

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 53 points, or 0.29 percent, to 18,401.

The S&P 500 shed a little more than 5 points, or 0.24 percent, to close at 2,171.

The Nasdaq lost 10 points, or 0.19 percent, to finish at 5,213.

Chicago PMI

The Chicago PMI reading came in at 51.5 for August, which was less than the 54.5 consensus estimate. In the prior month, the purchasing manager's index was 55.8.

Pending Home Sales

Pending home sales jumped more than expected for July, recording a gain of 1.3 percent versus expectations that sales would rise 0.7 percent. In the prior period, sales contracted by 0.8 percent.

Commodities

The commodity complex was lower on Wednesday with the Bloomberg Commodity Index falling 1.05 percent.

NYMEX crude oil futures shed 3.32 percent to $44.81 while Brent contracts fell 2.75 percent to $47.04. Natural gas futures climbed 0.91 percent to $2.88 on the day.

Precious metals were mixed during Wednesday's trading session. COMEX gold futures lost 0.38 percent to $1,311.50. The SPDR Gold Trust ETF GLD 0.2% fell 0.20 percent to close the equity session at $124.78. Silver contracts added 0.20 percent to $18.71 on the day. The iShares Silver Trust ETF SLV 0.28% added 0.28 percent to $17.72 to close the equity session.

In the grains complex, corn and wheat were both lower on the day. Corn contracts fell 0.08 percent to $3.1550 mid-week, while wheat futures shed 1.02 percent to $3.8825. In soft commodities, cocoa was slightly positive on the day while cotton contracts lost a little better than 1 percent.

Bonds

Treasury prices were moderately higher on Wednesday. At the close of equities, the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF TLT 0.14% had added 0.14 percent to $139.87.

Treasury yields were as follows on Wednesday afternoon: The yield on the 2-Year Note was 0.80 percent. The 5-Year Note was yielding 1.19 percent. The 10-Year Note was last yielding 1.58 percent while the 30-Year Bond yield was 2.23 percent.

Currencies

The U.S. Dollar was essentially unchanged on Wednesday. The PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF UUP 0.04%, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, traded down 0.04 percent to $24.82. The closely watched EUR/USD pair added 0.11 percent to 1.1155 euros.

Volatility and Volume

The modest market declines caused the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) to climb on the session. At last check, the VIX had added 2.21 percent to 13.41, which is still near the bottom of its 52-week range.

Volume was lighter than normal on Wednesday. Around 68 million SPDR S&P 500 ETF SPY 0.28% shares traded hands versus a 3-month daily average of just over 89 million shares. Trading in the PowerShares QQQ Trust QQQ 0.1%, which tracks the Nasdaq 100, was also below average with around 15.4 million shares being traded compared to a 3-month daily average of 21.2 million.

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