While buying interest has remained relatively subdued, stocks have moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Thursday. Technology stocks have helped to lead the way higher, with Apple (AAPL) rebounding after ending the previous session sharply lower.
The major averages are all in positive territory, although the Nasdaq is outperforming its counterparts. The Nasdaq is up 20.99 points or 0.7 percent at 2,994.69, while the Dow is up 14.31 points or 0.1 percent at 13,048.80 and the S&P 500 is up 3.41 points or 0.2 percent at 1,412.69.
The modest upside for the markets is partly due to strength in the tech sector, as reflected by the more substantial gain by the tech-heavy Nasdaq.
Shares of Apple have shown a notable rebound, with the iPad and iPhone maker rising by 2.4 percent after tumbling by 6.4 percent on Wednesday.
The markets may also be benefiting from the release of a report from the Labor Department showing a bigger than expected drop by initial jobless claims in the week ended December 1st.
The Labor Department said jobless claims fell to 370,000, a decrease of 25,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 395,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to drop to 380,000 from the 393,000 originally reported for the previous week.
With the drop, jobless claims continued to settle down after seeing considerable volatility due to the impact of Superstorm Sandy.
Nonetheless, many traders remain on the sidelines ahead of tomorrow's closely watched monthly employment report.
Economists expect an increase of about 90,000 jobs in November following the addition of 171,000 jobs in October. The unemployment rate is expected to edge up to 8.0 percent from 7.9 percent.
Continued uncertainty about the looming fiscal cliff may also be helping to limit the upside for the markets, with lawmakers in Washington struggling to reach an agreement to avoid the approximately $600 billion in automatic tax increases in spending cuts due to take effect at the end of the year.
Computer hardware stocks have shown a strong move to the upside on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index up by 1.7 percent. With the gain, the index has risen to its best intraday level in well over a month.
Seagate Technology (STX) and Western Digital (WDC) are turning in two of the hardware sector's best performances, advancing by 3.8 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.
Notable strength has also emerged among internet stocks, as reflected by the 1.1 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Internet Index. Akamai Technologies (AKAM) has helped to lead the sector higher, jumping 9.1 percent after announcing a partnership with AT&T (T).
Semiconductor, commercial real estate, and airline stocks are also seeing some strength on the day, while modest weakness is visible among trucking and defense stocks.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. While Japan's Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.8 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged down by 0.1 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on the day. The German DAX Index surged up by 1.1 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries continue to see modest strength, extending the upward move seen over the two previous sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, has dipped 1.9 basis points to 1.572 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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