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

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Stocks continue to modest strength in mid-day trading on Friday, although buying interest appears somewhat subdued. Earlier in the session, the major averages reached their best intraday levels in well over a month.

Currently, the major averages are turning in a mixed performance. While the Nasdaq is down 4.61 points or 0.1 percent at 7,400.36, the Dow is up 66.00 points or 0.3 percent at 24,805.53 and the S&P 500 is up 2.90 points or 0.1 percent at 2,725.97.

In morning trading, the markets continued to benefit from the upward momentum seen over the two previous sessions.

Buying interest has remained somewhat subdued, however, as traders seem reluctant to continue picking up stocks.

Traders may also be looking ahead to President Donald Trump's speech this afternoon on his plan to lower drug prices.

Reports say Trump's plan will include a series of reforms to Medicare but will stop short of allowing the government to negotiate directly with drug makers.

On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing import prices increased by less than expected in the month of April.

The Labor Department said import prices rose by 0.3 percent in April after edging down by a revised 0.2 percent in March.

Economists had expected import prices to climb by 0.5 percent compared to the unchanged reading originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the report said export prices increased by 0.6 percent in April after rising by 0.3 percent in March. Export prices had been expected to rise by another 0.3 percent.

A separate report released by the University of Michigan showed consumer sentiment unexpected held steady in early May.

The report said the preliminary reading on the consumer sentiment index for May came in at 98.8, unchanged from the final April reading. Economists had expected the index to edge down to 98.5.

Sector News

Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, contributing to the relatively lackluster performance by the broader markets.

Transportation stocks are seeing considerable strength, however, with the Dow Jones Transportation Average climbing by 1.2 percent.

C.H. Robinson (CHRW), Matson (MATX), and Landstar (LSTR) are turning in some of the transportation sector's best performances.

Steel and biotechnology stocks are also seeing some strength in mid-day trading, while tobacco stocks have moved to the downside.

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 jumped by 1.2 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.4 percent.

The major European markets also turned mixed on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index edged down by 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

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 down by less than a basis point at 2.966 percent.

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