After moving mostly higher over the two previous sessions, stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Friday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a roughly flat open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by just 3 points.
Traders may be reluctant to make any significant moves after the upward move seen on Thursday lifted the S&P 500 to a new five-year closing high.
With earnings season only just starting to pick up steam, traders may take a wait-and-see approach as more big-name companies release their quarterly results in the coming weeks.
Nonetheless, shares of Wells Fargo (WFC) are likely to be in focus after the financial services giant reported fourth quarter earnings and revenues that exceeded analyst estimates.
Wells Fargo, the nation's largest mortgage lender, reported fourth quarter earnings of $0.91 per share on revenues of $21.9 billion. Analysts had expected the company to earn $0.89 per share on revenues of $21.3 billion.
Traders are also digesting some mixed news from overseas that may contribute to choppy trading early in the session on Wall Street.
While news of a $116 billion stimulus package in Japan generated some positive sentiment, the news was largely offset by a report from China showing a bigger than expected acceleration in the pace of inflation.
Stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading day on Thursday but largely maintained a positive bias before ending the day notably higher. The markets benefited from a positive reaction to some upbeat news from overseas.
The major averages ended the day firmly in positive territory, adding to the gains posted in the previous session. The Dow rose 80.71 points or 0.6 percent to 13,471.22, the Nasdaq climbed 15.95 points or 0.5 percent to 3,121.76 and the S&P 500 advanced 11.10 points or 0.8 percent to 1,472.12.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index surged up by 1.4 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index tumbled by 1.8 percent.
The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index has fallen by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index are up by 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.
In commodities trading, crude oil futures are sliding $0.57 to $93.28 a barrel after advancing $0.72 to $93.82 a barrel on Thursday. Gold futures are falling $5.10 to $1,672.70 an ounce. In the previous session, the precious metal jumped $22.50 to $1,678 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 88.99 yen compared to the 88.78 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.3343 compared to yesterday's $1.3272.
by RTT Staff Writer
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