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Stocks Showing A Lack Of Direction In Early Trading - U.S. Commentary

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After initially moving to the downside, stocks have shown a lack of direction over the course of early trading on Thursday. The major averages have been bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line after ending the previous session in the red.

Currently, the major averages are just below the unchanged line. The Dow is down 11.91 points or 0.1 percent at 18,469.57, the Nasdaq is down 1.38 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 5,216.31 and the S&P 500 is down 1.04 points or 0.1 percent at 2,174.40.

The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as traders continue to look ahead to a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Friday.

Yellen is due to speak at the Kansas City Fed's monetary policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and traders will be looking for clues about the outlook for interest rates in her remarks.

However, analysts have noted the speech entitled "Designing Resilient Monetary Policy Frameworks for the Future" may focus more on the long-term.

"Traders are, as always, hoping to be able to decipher the path for U.S. monetary policy," said Accendo Markets analysts Mike van Dulken and Augustin Eden. "They may be left wanting. Again."

On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department released a report before the start of trading showing a stronger than expected rebound in durable goods orders in the month of July.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders surged up by 4.4 percent in July after tumbling by a revised 4.2 percent in June.

Economists had expected orders to climb by about 3.7 percent compared to the 4.0 percent slump that had been reported for the previous month.

Excluding a jump in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders rose by 1.5 percent in July after edging down by 0.3 percent in June. Ex-transportation orders had been expected to tick up by 0.5 percent.

A separate report from the Labor Department unexpectedly showed another modest drop in initial jobless claims in the week ended August 20th.

The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 261,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 262,000. Economists had expected claims to rise to 265,000.

Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves, although gold stocks are regaining some ground following recent weakness. The NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index has surged up by 1.6 percent after hitting a nearly two-month closing low on Wednesday.

The rebound by gold stocks comes even though the price of the precious metal is seeing further downside, with gold for December delivery sliding $5 to $1,324.70 an ounce.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific closed mixed once again on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index dipped by 0.3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index inched up by less than a tenth of a percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has fallen by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.7 percent and the German DAX Index is down by 0.9 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have regained some ground after an early decline but remain in the red. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by nearly a basis point at 1.568 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

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