With traders reluctant to make any significant moves, stocks continue to turn in a lackluster performance in mid-day trading on Tuesday. The choppy trading comes as traders are looking ahead to monetary policy decisions from both sides of the Atlantic.
The major averages have lingered near the unchanged line throughout the session and are currently mixed. While the Nasdaq is up 4.11 points or 0.1 percent at 2,949.95, the Dow is down 16.84 points or 0.1 percent at 13,056.17 and the S&P 500 is down 1.35 points or 0.1 percent at 1,383.95.
Extending the trend seen in the previous session, many traders are staying on the sidelines ahead of monetary policy announcements from the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
Peter Boockvar, managing director at Miller Tabak, said, "For the next two days we'll sit and wait for what the Fed will tell us they'll do next as patience and sitting still are not virtues of theirs."
"But, Mario Draghi and the ECB last week stole the thunder and took the microphone away from the Fed, making Thursday's ECB meeting much more relevant to markets," he added.
Ahead of the monetary policy announcements as well as Friday's monthly U.S. jobs report, traders have shrugged off a batch of largely upbeat economic data.
Standard & Poor's released a report before the start of trading showing a bigger than expected increase in home prices, while a report from the Institute for Supply Management - Chicago showed that Chicago-area business activity unexpectedly expanded at a faster rate in July.
The Conference Board also released a report showing an unexpected improvement in consumer confidence in the month of July, with consumers becoming more optimistic about the short-term outlook.
Meanwhile, a separate report from the Commerce Department showed that consumer spending unexpectedly come in roughly flat in June despite a bigger than expected increase in personal income
On the earnings front, drug giant Pfizer (PFE) reported second quarter earnings that rose year-over-year and came in above analyst estimates. The company also reported revenues that exceeded expectations.
Aetna (AET) also reported better than expected second quarter earnings and raised its full-year guidance. Nonetheless, shares of Aetna have moved moderately lower despite the upbeat news.
Shares of Humana (HUM) have shown a more significant moves to the downside after the health insurer reported second quarter earnings that fell by more than expected and lowered its full-year guidance.
While most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves, steel stocks have moved notably higher on the day. The NYSE Arca Steel Index is advancing by 1.5 percent, climbing further off the three-year closing low it set last Wednesday.
U.S. Steel (X) is helping to lead the steel sector higher, with the industry giant surging up by 9.6 percent after reporting better than expected second quarter earnings.
Networking stocks are also seeing considerable strength, with the NYSE Arca Networking Index rising by 1.4 percent. Semiconductor and telecom stocks are also posting notable gains.
On the other hand, electronic storage stocks have come under pressure on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca Disk Drive Index down by 2.1 percent. Seagate Technology (STX) is leading the storage sector lower after reporting disappointing quarterly results.
Housing, brokerage, and oil service stocks have also shown significant moves to the downside, with oil service stocks moving lower along with the price of crude oil.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged up by 1.1 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside over the course of the session. While the German DAX Index closed just below the unchanged line, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.9 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries have moved moderately higher, continuing to recover from the sell-off seen last Friday. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 2.6 basis points at 1.478 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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