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Stocks Remain Firmly Positive In Mid-Afternoon Trading - U.S. Commentary

Stocks continue to see considerable strength in mid-afternoon trading on Thursday, although buying interest has waned from earlier in the session. The major averages are hovering firmly in positive territory, adding to the strong gains posted in the previous session.

The markets have benefited from a positive reaction to a report from the Commerce Department showing that the U.S. trade deficit came in significantly narrower than expected in February. The data led Capital Economics to raise its first quarter GDP growth estimate to 2.5 percent from 2.0 percent.

Meanwhile, traders have largely shrugged off a Labor Department report showing a much bigger than expected increase in initial jobless claims in the week ended April 7th, with economists pointing out that the numbers were likely skewed by the holiday weekend.

Resource stocks are turning in some of the market's best performances, with standout gains by steel stocks resulting in a 4.5 percent gain by the NYSE Arca Steel Index.

Gold and oil service stocks are also seeing considerable strength, moving higher along with the prices of their associated commodities.

Substantial strength also remains visible in variety of other sectors, with transportation, healthcare, housing, and chemical stocks posting significant gains.

The major averages are currently posting strong gains but remain below the unchanged line for the week. The Dow is down 164.92 points or 1.3 percent at 12,970.31, the Nasdaq is down 33.70 points or 1.1 percent at 3,050.16 and the S&P 500 is up 16.41 points or 1.2 percent at 1,385.12.

by RTT Staff Writer

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