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Stocks Seeing Modest Strength But Nasdaq Stuck In The Red - U.S. Commentary


While buying interest has remained relatively subdued, stocks have moved modestly higher over the course of the trading day on Tuesday. However, continued weakness in the tech-sector is contributing to a loss by the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

The major averages are currently turning in a mixed performance, with the Nasdaq posting a modest loss. The Nasdaq is down 3.08 points or 0.1 percent at 3,151.22, while the Dow is up 51.26 points or 0.4 percent at 13,933.19 and the S&P 500 is up 4.40 points or 0.3 percent at 1,504.58.

The modest strength that has emerged on Wall Street is partly due to a positive reaction to the some of the latest earnings news.

Drug giant Pfizer (PFE) is currently posting a notable gain after reporting better than expected fourth quarter earnings. Shares of Pfizer are up by 3.1 percent.

Tupperware (TUP), Beazer Homes (BZH) and Eli Lilly (LLY) have also shown strong moves to the upside after releasing their quarterly results.

At the same time, shares of Ford (F) have come under pressure after the auto giant reported better than expected fourth quarter earnings but forecast a wider than previously estimated loss in Europe in 2013.

Yahoo (YHOO) has also moved to the downside even though the online media giant reported fourth quarter results that exceeded analyst estimates.

Meanwhile, traders have largely shrugged off a report from the Conference Board showing that U.S. consumer confidence fell to a fourteen-month low in January.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index tumbled to 58.6 in January from an upwardly revised 66.7 in December. With the decrease, the index fell to its lowest level since November of 2011.

Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital, said, "Smaller paychecks are hurting consumer confidence but higher home and equity values, and eventually stronger job growth, should help buffer the pain."

Sector News

Oil stocks have moved sharply higher over the course of the trading day, benefiting from a notable increase by the price of crude oil. With crude for March delivery jumping $1.13 to $97.57 a barrel, the NYSE Arca Oil Index is up by 2.2 percent.

Hess (HES) is posting a standout gain after Elliott Management urged shareholders to elect a slate of five new board members and said unlocking the company's potential could result in a share price of greater than $126 per share. Shares of Hess are currently up by 9.2 percent.

Housing stocks have also shown a strong move back to the upside after coming under pressure in the previous session, with the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index up by 1.6 percent. D.R. Horton (DHI) is leading the sector higher after reporting better than expected first quarter results.

Gold, steel, and pharmaceutical stocks have also moved notably higher as the day has progressed, with gold stocks benefiting from an increase by the price of the precious metal.

On the other hand, substantial weakness remains visible among computer hardware stocks, as reflected by the 3.7 percent loss being posted by the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index. Lexmark (LXK) and Seagate Technology (STX) continue to post steep losses.

Networking and internet stocks also remain under pressure in mid-day trading, helping to keep the tech-heavy Nasdaq in the red.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in yet another mixed performance during trading on Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.4 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged down by 0.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside over the course of the session. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index inched up by 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have pulled back near the unchanged line after moving modestly higher in early trading. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is flat at 1.974 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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