Stocks have shown a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, extending the lackluster performance seen over the course of the two previous sessions. Traders remain reluctant to make any significant moves.
The major averages are currently lingering near the unchanged line, showing moves off less than a tenth of a percent. While the Nasdaq is down 0.52 points at 3,076.62, the Dow is up 2.30 points at 13,105.29 and the S&P 500 is up 0.75 points at 1,410.05.
The choppy trading on Wall Street comes despite the release of two relatively upbeat economic reports, including a report from the Commerce Department showing slightly stronger than previously estimated U.S. economic growth in the second quarter.
The report showed that GDP increased by 1.7 percent in the second quarter compared to the 1.5 percent growth previously reported. The upward revision came in line with economist estimates.
While the economy grew faster than previously estimated, the pace of growth remains relatively slow and still leaves the door open for further stimulus.
A separate report from the National Association of Realtors showed that pending home sales rose by more than expected in the month of July, reaching their highest level in over two years.
NAR said its pending home sales index rose by 2.4 percent to 101.7 in July after falling by 1.4 percent to 99.3 in June. Economists had been expecting the index to increase by about 1.0 percent.
A pending home sale is one in which a contract was signed but not yet closed. Normally, it takes four to six weeks to close a contracted sale.
With the data largely seen as backward looking, many traders continue to look ahead to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech at the Jackson Hole symposium on Friday.
Later in the day, the Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its Beige Book, a compilation of anecdotal evidence on economic conditions from each of the twelve Fed districts.
The economic assessment contained in the Beige Book could have a significant impact on the outlook for further quantitative easing from the Fed.
While most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves, considerable weakness has emerged among steel stocks. Reflecting the weakness in the steel sector, the NYSE Arca Steel Index is down by 1.9 percent after hitting its worst intraday level in almost a month.
Schnitzer Steel (SCHN) has helped to lead the steel sector lower, with the steel maker down by 6.5 percent after Credit Agricole downgraded its rating on the stock to Sell from Underperform.
Airline stocks have also moved to the downside on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca Airline Index down by 1.5 percent. Gold and oil service stocks are also moving lower amid decreases by their related commodities prices.
On the other hand, health insurance stocks are seeing notable strength in mid-day trading, with the Morgan Stanley Healthcare Payor Index up by 1.3 percent. WellPoint (WLP) is posting a standout gain after the company announced that its Chairman and CEO Angela Braly abruptly stepped down.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance on Wednesday. While Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.4 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged down by 0.1 percent.
The major European markets are turning in a mixed performance on the day. The German DAX Index inched up by 0.1 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.5 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries have moved notably lower after trending higher over the past few sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 4.1 basis points at 1.671 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: email@example.com