Monday’s Mid-Day Movers: 3 Stories Driving Markets

The U.S. equity markets gave up pre-market gains to trade in negative territory by Monday afternoon. Concern is building that the markets, flirting on and off with five-year highs, are overbought and could face bursts of sharp downturns.

At 12:45 p.m.: DJIA: -0.23%, S&P 500: -0.10%, NASDAQ: -0.24%.

Here are three stories moving markets on Monday afternoon:

1) President Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, and a majority of Americans think he should set either the U.S. economy or the federal deficit as his top priority. A new Quinnipiac University national poll indicates that the economy and the deficit are more important than any other leading issue, including gun control and healthcare.

The poll breaks down responses by political affiliation, which reveals — perhaps unsurprisingly — that Democrats and Republicans are fundamentally split over the deficit… (Read more.)

Here’s a breakdown of the results respondents gave when answering what they were most interested in hearing about in the State of the Union Address.

Total Republican Democrat Independent
Economy 35% 32% 38% 21%
Federal Deficit 20% 30% 12% 21%

2) While the United States may technically be out of recession, Americans are still dealing with difficult economic conditions. Not only is unemployment still near 8 percent and hardly moving anywhere, but taxes for the majority of Americans earning a paycheck just went up.

What’s more, gas prices at the beginning of 2013 are as high as they have ever been for this time of year, and the S&P GSCI, a leading measure of general price movement and inflation, is at its highest level ever for the beginning of February… (Read more.)

Here’s a breakdown of Quinnipiac University national poll who think the U.S. is still in a recession:

Total Republican Democrat Independent
Yes 53% 74% 35% 53%
No 42% 21% 60% 42%
 Don’t Know 5% 5% 5% 4%

3) Last week, the EIA Petroleum Status Report showed that inventories grew by 2.6 million to 371.7 million barrels, well above their average for this time of year. The news has helped pull the price of WTI oil down below $95 per barrel for the first time since January 23, while Brent crude in Europe is pushing against a resistance level near $120 per barrel.

On Monday, for the first time in nine days, Brent’s premium to crude fell as the price per barrel dropped $1.33 to $117.57… (Read more.)

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