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Major Averages Remain Mixed In Mid-Day Trading - U.S. Commentary

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After ending the previous session on opposite sides of the unchanged line, the major averages are turning in another mixed performance during trading on Friday. While the Dow has turned positive, the broader Nasdaq and S&P 500 are in the red.

Currently, the Dow is up 43.39 points or 0.2 percent at 21,828.17, while the Nasdaq is down 21.78 points or 0.3 percent at 6,376.09 and the S&P 500 is down 0.97 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 2,464.13.

Stocks saw initial weakness amid concerns about the economic impact of Hurricane Irma, with the massive storm expected to make landfall in Florida early Sunday.

While Irma was downgraded from a category 5 to a category 4, FEMA Administrator Brock Long warned the hurricane continues to be a threat that is going to devastate the U.S. in either Florida or some of the southeastern states.

The approach of Irma comes close on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, which led to widespread devastation and flooding in Texas.

Selling pressure was also generated due to worries about North Korea, which is celebrating a holiday on Saturday that could be a key date for another intercontinental ballistic missile launch.

The subsequent rebound by the Dow is partly due to notable advances by Travelers (TRV) and Home Depot (HD), which are jumping by 3.1 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing wholesale inventories rose by more than anticipated in the month of July.

The Commerce Department said wholesale inventories climbed by 0.6 percent in July, matching the downwardly revised increase in June.

Economists had expected inventories to rise by 0.4 percent compared to the 0.7 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

Sector News

Natural gas stocks are seeing substantial weakness in mid-day trading, dragging the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index down by 2.8 percent. The index is pulling back further off the nearly one-month closing high set on Wednesday.

The weakness in the natural gas sector comes as the price of natural gas for October delivery is sliding $0.079 to $2.902 per million BTUs.

Considerable weakness is also visible among steel stocks, as reflected by the 2.2 percent slump by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. The drop by the index comes after it ended the previous session at its best closing level in six months.

Oil service, gold, and telecom stocks have also moved significantly lower on the day, while notable strength is visible among housing and brokerage stocks.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index slid by 0.6 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed by 0.5 percent.

The major European markets also ended the day mixed. While the German DAX Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index closed just below the unchanged line and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.3 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have shown a lack of direction over the course of the session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by less than a basis point at 2.063 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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