Stocks are turning in another lackluster performance in early trading on Thursday after ending the previous session nearly flat. The major averages are showing only modest moves, hovering near their recent three-month highs.
The major averages have moved to the upside in the past few minutes and are currently posting modest gains. The Dow is up 11.70 points or 0.1 percent at 13,187.34, the Nasdaq is up 7.04 points or 0.2 percent at 3,018.29 and the S&P 500 is up 1.40 points or 0.1 percent at 1,403.62.
The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as traders express continued uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets following the recent strength.
While optimism about further monetary stimulus helped to drive stocks higher, traders seem reluctant to continue buying without any official announcement.
At the same time, some upbeat economic data has helped to keep traders from cashing in on the recent gains, with a report from the Labor Department showing an unexpected drop in weekly jobless claims.
The report showed that initial jobless claims fell to 361,000 in the week ended August 4th from the previous week's revised figure of 367,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge up to 367,000 from the 365,000 originally reported for the previous week.
A separate report from the Commerce Department showed that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $42.9 billion in June from $48.0 billion in May. The trade deficit had been expected to narrow to $47.5 billion.
The narrower than expected trade deficit reflected an increase in the value of exports and a decrease in the value of imports.
Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves, although notable strength has emerged among brokerage stocks. The NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index has advanced by 1 percent, with E*Trade (ETFC) leading the way higher on news that CEO Steven Freiberg has left the company.
Steel and computer hardware stocks are also seeing moderate strength in early trading, while modest weakness is visible among airline stocks.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 1.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged up by 1 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets have turned mixed over the course of the trading day. While the German DAX Index is down 0.2 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index have both edged up by 0.1 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries have come under pressure, extending a recent downward move. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is jumping 6.5 basis points to a two-month high of 1.705 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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