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Stocks Remain Firmly Positive In Mid-Day Trading - U.S. Commentary

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Stocks continue to see considerable strength in mid-day trading on Thursday after an early move to the upside. The major averages remain firmly in positive territory, offsetting the weakness seen in the previous session.

In recent trading, the major averages have moved roughly sideways, holding on to strong gains. The Dow is up 296.52 points or 1.2 percent at 24,485.97, the Nasdaq is up 79.43 points or 1.1 percent at 7,148.46 and the S&P 500 is up 22.10 points or 0.8 percent at 2,664.29.

The strength on Wall Street comes as President Donald Trump sought to downplay concerns about an attack on Syria.

"Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!" Trump said in a post on Twitter.

He added, "In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our 'Thank you America?'"

In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing first time claims for unemployment benefits decreased in the week ended April 7th.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 233,000, a decrease of 9,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 242,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to drop to 230,000.

A separate report released by the Labor Department showed import prices came in unchanged in March, while export prices increased by more than expected.

The Labor Department said import prices recorded no change in March after climbing by 0.3 percent in February. Economists had expected import prices to rise by 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the report said export prices increased by 0.3 percent in March after rising by 0.2 percent in the previous month. Export prices had been expected to rise by 0.2 percent.

Banking stocks continue to see significant strength in mid-day trading, with the KBW Bank Index jumping by 1.9 percent.

Considerable strength is also visible among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 1.7 percent gain being posted by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index.

Transportation, chemical, and computer hardware stocks are also seeing notable strength, while weakness is visible among gold and real estate stocks.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell by 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, European stocks moved mostly higher on the day. The German DAX Index jumped by 1 percent and the French CAC 40 Index climbed by 0.6 percent, although the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index closed just below the unchanged line.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved notably lower amid the strength on Wall Street. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 3.5 basis points at 2.825 percent.

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