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Stocks Showing A Lack Of Direction In Early Trading - U.S. Commentary

Stocks are turning in another lackluster performance in early trading on Friday after showing a lack of direction throughout the previous sessions. After ending Thursday's trading mixed, the major averages continue to linger near the unchanged line.

The major averages are currently turning in a mixed performance, with the Dow posting a modest loss. The Dow is down 22.13 points or 0.2 percent at 12,507.62, while the Nasdaq is up 0.42 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 2,839.80 and the S&P 500 is up 0.93 points or 0.1 percent at 1,321.61.

The choppy trading on Wall Street comes amid a relatively light day in terms of U.S. economic data and corporate news, with many traders looking to get a head start on the long Memorial Day weekend.

Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves, although early strength has emerged among semiconductor stocks. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index is up by 1 percent amid strong gains by MEMC Electronic Materials (WFR) and SanDisk (SNDK).

While health insurance, gold, and software stocks have also moved moderately higher, modest weakness is visible among steel and electronic storage stocks.

Among individual stocks, futures exchange operator CME Group (CME) is moving higher in early trading after announcing a 5-for-1 split of its common stock in the form of a 400 percent stock dividend.

Shares of Semtech (SMTC) have also moved to the upside after the chip maker reported first quarter earnings that fell short of expectations but forecast second quarter results in line with analyst estimates.

Meanwhile, Verifone (PAY) is seeing early weakness after the electronic payments company reported better than expected second quarter earnings but forecast full year results toward the low end of estimates. Shares of Verifone are down by 11.3 percent.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index crept up by 0.2 percent, while Australia's All Ordinaries Index fell by 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have turned lower over the course of the trading day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are both down by 0.2 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are seeing modest strength but have pulled back off their best levels of the day. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by less than a basis point at 1.75 percent.

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