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Stocks Regaining Ground Following Recent Weakness - U.S. Commentary

Stocks moved higher at the start of trading on Thursday, regaining some ground after trending lower over the past few sessions. The major averages all moved to the upside, with the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 bouncing off two-month closing lows.

The major averages are currently posting strong gains, near their highs for the young session. The Dow is up 84.50 points or 0.7 percent at 12,919.56, the Nasdaq is up 10.87 points or 0.4 percent at 2,945.58 and the S&P 500 is up 10.20 points or 0.8 percent at 1,364.78.

Bargain hunting contributed to the early strength on Wall Street, with some traders picking up stocks at reduced levels following the recent weakness.

Nonetheless, buying interest appears somewhat subdued amid continued concerns about the political uncertainty in Greece, where Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos is making a last-ditch effort to form a government and avoid a new round of elections.

Traders are also digesting a batch of key economic data, including a report from the Labor Department showing a slight drop in initial jobless claims in the week ended May 5th.

The report showed that initial jobless claims edged down to 367,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 368,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 366,000 from the 365,000 originally reported for the previous week.

The Commerce Department also released a report showing that the U.S. trade deficit widened to $51.8 billion in March from a revised $45.4 billion in February. The trade deficit had been expected to widen to $49.5 billion from the $46.0 billion originally reported for the previous month.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed that import prices fell by more than expected in the month of April, with the drop largely due to lower fuel prices.

Banking stocks are seeing considerable strength in early trading, driving the KBW Bank Index up by 1.9 percent. The gain by the index comes after it ended the previous session at its worst closing level in almost two months.

Significant strength is also visible among steel stocks, with ArcelorMittal (MT) helping to lead the sector higher despite reporting a sharp drop in first quarter earnings.

Gold, health insurance, and airline stocks are also posting notable gains, while early weakness is visible among networking stocks.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) is leading the networking sector lower, tumbling by 8.2 percent after reporting better than expected third quarter earnings but providing disappointing fourth quarter guidance.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Thursday. While Japan's Nikkei 225 Index and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell by 0.4 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, Australia's All Ordinaries Index advanced by 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the upside on the day. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.6 percent, and the German DAX Index is up by 0.8 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have shown a notable pullback after trending higher in recent sessions. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 6.3 basis points at 1.898 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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