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Stocks Mostly Higher Amid Optimism About Cyprus - U.S. Commentary


With traders expressing optimism about the situation in Cyprus, stocks are mostly higher in mid-day trading on Friday. The strength on the day is partly offsetting the notable weakness that was seen in the previous session.

The major averages have given back some ground in recent trading but remain firmly positive. The Dow is up 76.68 points or 0.5 percent at 14,498.17, the Nasdaq is up 14.42 points or 0.5 percent at 3,237.02 and the S&P 500 is up 8.92 points or 0.6 percent at 1,554.72.

A positive reaction to the latest news out of Cyprus has contributed to the strength on Wall Street, with Cypriot lawmakers reportedly making progress on coming up with a new bailout plan.

The European Central Bank has indicated that the Mediterranean island nation only has until Monday to come up with a "Plan B" before it cuts off emergency funding.

On Tuesday, Cyprus's parliament voted to reject a proposed European Union bailout plan that would tax bank deposits at a rate of up to 9.9 percent.

Some positive sentiment was generated by news that Cyprus managed to clinch a deal with Greece to spin off the Greek units of ailing Cypriot banks.

Nonetheless, buying interest remains somewhat subdued, with a lack of major U.S. economic data keeping some traders on the sidelines.

Shares of Nike (NKE) have shown a strong move to the upside, however, with the athletic apparel maker surging up by 11.7 percent.

The gain by Nike comes after the company reported stronger than expected third quarter earnings growth. While revenues trailed expectations, the company also reported a 6 percent increase in futures orders.

Chip maker Micron Technology (MU) is also moving notably higher despite reporting a wider than expected second quarter loss. Revenues for the quarter exceeded analyst estimates.

On the other hand, shares of Tibco Software (TIBX) have come under pressure after the business software developer reported first quarter earnings that fell year-over-year on weaker than expected revenues. The company also provided disappointing guidance.

Sector News

Trucking stocks continue to see considerable strength in mid-day trading, with the Dow Jones Trucking Index up by 1.3 percent. The index is regaining some ground after closing lower in four out of the five previous sessions.

Old Dominion (ODFL) has helped to lead the trucking sector higher, jumping by 5 percent after raising its expectations for first quarter tonnage growth.

Significant strength has also emerged among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 1.3 percent gain being posted by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index. While Micron is leading the way higher, Cree (CREE) and Applied Materials (AMAT) are also posting strong gains.

Telecom, oil, and pharmaceutical stocks have also shown notable moves to the upside, while weakness among electronic storage and health insurance stocks is partly offsetting the aforementioned gains.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index tumbled by 2.4 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended the day down by 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a mixed performance on the day. While the German DAX Index is down by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.4 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have shown a lack of direction after failing to sustain an early upward move. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is currently unchanged at 1.932 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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