Stocks have moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Friday, adding to the strong gains posted in the previous session. The markets continue to benefit from optimism about the possibility of further stimulus from the world's central banks.
The major averages are currently posting notable gains, not far off their highs for the session. The Dow is up 62.89 points or 0.5 percent at 12,714.80, the Nasdaq is up 19.46 points or 0.7 percent at 2,855.79 and the S&P 500 is up 7.44 points or 0.6 percent at 1,336.54.
Much of the strength on Wall Street stems from optimism that recent disappointing economic data and the lingering threats from Europe will lead the world's central banks to take additional steps to prop up the global economy.
Considerable buying interest has been generated by Thursday's report from Reuters indicating that central banks from major economies are prepared to take necessary steps to stabilize the financial markets after the Greek elections on Sunday.
"The central banks are preparing for coordinated action to provide liquidity," Reuters quoted a senior G20 aide familiar with discussions among international financial diplomats as saying.
Adding to the optimism, the U.K. government and the Bank of England announced additional measures to boost the credit and financial markets.
The measures will offer banks billions of pounds in cheap credit in an effort to stimulate lending while also providing access to short-term money to deal with "exceptional market stresses."
Traders have subsequently shrugged off disappointing reports on U.S. industrial production, consumer sentiment, and New York manufacturing activity, with the weaker than expected data only reinforcing the optimism about further stimulus.
Nonetheless, trading activity remains somewhat subdued ahead of this weekend's elections in Greece, which will have a significant impact on whether the debt-plagued nation sticks to the terms of its international bailout.
Most of the major sectors have moved to the upside over the course of the trading day, with software stocks posting particularly strong gains. Reflecting the strength in the software sector, the Dow Jones Software Index had advanced by 1.8 percent.
Nuance Communications (NUAN) and Oracle (ORCL) are turning in two of the software sector's best performances following analyst upgrades.
Significant strength has also emerged among electronic storage stocks, as reflected by the 1.7 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Disk Drive Index. EMC Corp. (EMC) and SanDisk (SNDK) are posting notable gains.
Chemical stocks have also shown a strong move to the upside on the day, driving the Dow Jones Chemicals Index up by 1.4 percent. Steel, railroad, health insurance, and trucking stocks are also seeing considerable strength in mid-day trading.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Friday, although Japan's Nikkei 225 Index closed only just above the unchanged line. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged up by 2.3 percent, while Australia's All Ordinaries Index rose by 0.4 percent.
The major European markets also showed notable moves to the upside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index jumped 1.5 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries have moved moderately higher over the course of the session despite the strength among stocks. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 3 basis points at 1.581 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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