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Stocks Seeing Continued Strength In Mid-Day Trading - U.S. Commentary

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Stocks remain mostly positive in mid-day trading on Friday after showing a notable move to the upside earlier in the session. With the gains on the day, the major averages are further offsetting the sell-off that was seen on Wednesday.

Currently, the major averages are hovering firmly in positive territory. The Dow is up 128.39 points or 0.6 percent at 20,791.41, the Nasdaq is up 39.45 points or 0.7 percent at 6,094.58 and the S&P 500 is up 18.03 points or 0.8 percent at 2,383.75.

The strength on Wall Street comes as traders continue to pick up stocks at relatively low levels following the substantial weakness that was seen two days ago.

The sell-off on Wednesday was triggered in part by reports President Donald Trump asked former FBI Director Comey to drop a federal investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

However, Trump flatly denied the claim he urged Comey to back off Flynn in a news conference after the close of trading on Thursday.

Trump sought to reassure Americans he was focused on efforts to create jobs, cut taxes and repeal and replace Obamacare despite the recent scandals that have plagued the White House.

"We have to get back to running this country really, really well," Trump said. "My total priority, believe me, is the United States of America."

Positive sentiment may also have been generated by comments from St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard raising questions about the need for another increase in interest rates next month.

Noting the financial market reaction to the March rate hike has been opposite of what is typically expected, Bullard said the Fed's contemplated policy rate path may be overly aggressive relative to incoming economic data.

Bullard, who is not a voting member of the Fed's policy committee this year, pointed out that U.S. macroeconomic data since the March meeting has been relatively weak.

Sector News

After falling sharply over the two previous sessions, steel stocks have shown a substantial move back to the upside. The NYSE Arca Steel Index is surging up by 3.5 percent after ending Thursday's trading at a six-month closing low.

Brazil's CSN (SID) and Gerdau (GGB) are turning in two of the steel sector's best performances, spiking by 10 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively.

Considerable strength is also visible among energy stocks, which are moving higher along with the price of crude oil. Crude for June delivery is jumping $1 to $50.35 a barrel.

Reflecting the strength in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is up by 2.3 percent, the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index is up by 2.1 percent and the NYSE Arca Oil & Gas Index is up by 1.3 percent.

Telecom stocks are also turning in a strong performance in mid-day trading, with the NYSE Arca North American Telecom Index climbing by 1.8 percent. Frontier Communications (FTR) is posting a standout gain.

Banking, airline, and chemical stocks are also seeing notable strength, moving higher along with most of the other major sectors.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index crept up by 0.2 percent, while Australia's All Ordinaries Index edged down by 0.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index rose by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have climbed off their worst levels but continue to see modest weakness. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 1.4 basis points at 2.247 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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