With traders largely staying on the sidelines ahead of the long weekend, stocks are turning in another lackluster performance during trading on Friday. The major averages are showing only modest moves after closing mixed in each of the three previous sessions.
Currently, the major averages have once again turned mixed, with the S&P 500 up 1.77 points or 0.1 percent at 1,322.45, while the Dow is down 19.71 points or 0.2 percent at 12,510.04 and the Nasdaq is down 0.06 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 1,322.45.
The choppy trading on Wall Street comes amid a relatively quiet day, with many traders looking to get a head start on the long Memorial Day weekend.
Traders have largely shrugged off the release of a report from Reuters and the University of Michigan showing that U.S. consumer sentiment in the month of May improved by more than previously estimated.
The report showed that the consumer sentiment index for May was upwardly revised to 79.3 from the mid-month reading of 77.8. The upward revision surprised economists, who had expected the index to come in unchanged.
With the upward revision, the index came in well above the final April reading of 76.4 and is now at its highest level since October of 2007.
Lingering concerns about the financial situation in Europe likely offset any positive sentiment generated by the better than expected reading on consumer sentiment.
Additionally, the consumer sentiment index is widely seen as a coincident indicator and not a sign of how consumers will behave going forward.
Among individual stocks, Frontline (FRO) is posting a standout gain after the oil tanker operator reported better than expected first quarter earnings and provided upbeat guidance. Shares of Frontline have jumped 12.3 percent.
Futures exchange operator CME Group (CME) is also trading higher after announcing a 5-for-1 split of its common stock in the form of a 400 percent stock dividend.
Meanwhile, shares of Talbots (TLB) have tumbled by 37.9 percent after private equity firm Sycamore Partners revealed that it is not prepared to execute a transaction to acquire the women's apparel retailer.
Verifone (PAY) is also posting a steep loss after the electronic payments company reported better than expected second quarter earnings but forecast full year results toward the low end of estimates. Shares of Verifone are down by 16 percent.
Reflecting the lack of direction being shown by the broader markets, most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves in mid-day trading.
Nonetheless, significant strength is visible among health insurance stocks, as reflected by the 1.9 percent gain being posted by the Morgan Stanley Healthcare Payor Index. Molina Healthcare (MOH) and Coventry Health Care (CVH) are turning in two of the sector's best performances.
Healthcare provider, semiconductor, and airline stocks are also seeing notable strength on the day, although buying interest remains relatively subdued.
On the other hand, railroad stocks have come under pressure, dragging the Dow Jones Railroads Index down by 1 percent. American Railcar (ARII) and Kansas City Southern (KSU) are helping to lead the sector lower.
Moderate weakness is also visible among electronic storage, trucking, and chemical stocks, offsetting the strength seen in the aforementioned sectors.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index crept up by 0.2 percent, while Australia's All Ordinaries Index fell by 0.6 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets ended the day modestly higher after seeing some volatility. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index inched up by less than a tenth of a percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index rose by 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries are seeing modest strength but are off their recent highs. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.4 basis points at 1.745 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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