Extending the sideways move seen over the past week, stocks are turning in another lackluster performance in early trading on Thursday. The major averages continue to linger near the unchanged after closing mixed in five of the past six sessions.
The major averages are currently turning in another mixed performance, with the Dow down 8.78 points or 0.1 percent at 13,156.00, while the Nasdaq is up 4.70 points or 0.2 percent at 3,035.63. The S&P 500 is unchanged at 1,405.53.
The choppy trading on Wall Street comes on the heels of the release of another mixed batch of U.S. economic data, which has added to recent uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets.
While the Commerce Department released a report showing a bigger than expected decrease in housing starts in the month of July, the report also showed a substantial increase in building permits, which are seen as an indicator of future housing activity.
The report showed that housing starts fell 1.1 percent to an annual rate of 746,000 in July from the revised June estimate of 754,000. Economists had expected housing starts to dip to 750,000 from the 760,000 originally reported for the previous month.
At the same time, the Commerce Department said building permits surged up by 6.8 percent to an annual rate of 812,000 in July from the revised June rate of 760,000. Building permits had been expected to climb to 766,000.
A separate report from the Labor Department showed that initial jobless claims came in slightly higher than anticipated in the week ended August 11th, although the less volatile four-week moving average fell to its lowest level in over four months.
A mixed reaction to quarterly results from Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Wal-Mart (WMT) is also contributing to the lackluster performance on Wall Street.
Shares of Cisco have moved sharply higher in early trading after the networking giant reported better than expected fourth quarter adjusted earnings. The company also announced a 75 percent increase in its quarterly dividend to $0.14 per share.
Meanwhile, retail giant Wal-Mart has come under pressure after reporting second quarter earnings that exceeded analyst estimates but on weaker than expected revenues. Looking ahead, the company raised its full-year earnings guidance.
Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves, although networking stocks are seeing considerable strength on the heels of Cisco's quarterly results. The NYSE Arca Networking Index is up by 2.2 percent after reaching its bets intraday level in over a month.
Electronic storage, steel, and oil service stocks are also seeing some strength in early trading, while weakness is visible among telecom, biotechnology, and retail stocks.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index surged up by 1.9 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended the day down by 0.5 percent.
The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are both up by 0.2 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries have moved slightly higher following recent weakness. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by less than a basis point at 1.798 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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