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Stocks Show Strong Upward Move At The Open - U.S. Commentary

3/26/2012 9:57 AM ET

Stocks showed a strong move to the upside at the start of trading on Monday after turning in a mixed performance last week. The major averages have moved firmly into positive territory, with the Nasdaq reaching a new eleven-year high.

The major averages have not seen much follow-through on their initial upward moves but are holding on to strong gains. The Dow is up 104.63 points or 0.8 percent at 13,185.36, the Nasdaq is up 25.27 points or 0.8 percent at 3,093.19 and the S&P 500 is up 11.29 points or 0.8 percent at 1,408.40.

The early strength on Wall Street comes on the heels of remarks from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who noted that the U.S. unemployment rate has declined faster than the Fed predicted but cautioned that the jobs market remains far from normal.

"We have seen some positive signs on the jobs front recently, including a pickup in monthly payroll gains and a notable decline in the unemployment rate," Bernanke told the National Association for Business Economics Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

However, Bernanke warned that cyclical problems could turn into structural weakness in the U.S. jobs market without a more robust recovery

But he assured that that the Fed's zero-interest rate policy and other support measures will help reduce unemployment over time by promoting economic growth.

Health insurance and healthcare provider stocks have moved notably higher in early trading, driving the Morgan Stanley Healthcare Payor Index and the Morgan Stanley Healthcare Provider Index up by 1.9 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

The strength in the healthcare sector comes as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments regarding President Obama's landmark healthcare reform law.

Gold, trucking, and software stocks are also seeing considerable strength, moving to the upside along with most of the major sectors.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Monday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged up by 0.1 percent, while Australia's All Ordinaries slipped by 0.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.4 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.7 percent and the German DAX Index is up by 1.2 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are seeing modest weakness after trending higher over the past few sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 1.1 basis points at 2.248 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

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