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

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Stocks have seen considerable volatility over the course of the trading session on Thursday as traders digest the latest batch of earnings news from big-name companies. The major averages have spent the day showing wild swings back and forth.

Currently, the major averages are turning in a mixed performance. The Dow has climbed well off its worst levels but remains down 111.44 points or 0.4 percent at 26,485.61, while the Nasdaq is up 29.08 points or 0.4 percent at 8,131.09 and the S&P 500 is up 4.82 points or 0.2 percent at 2,932.07.

A steep drop by shares of 3M (MMM) is weighing on the Dow, with the diversified manufacturer plunging by 10.8 percent on the day.

The sell-off by 3M comes after the company reported weaker than expected first quarter results and lowered its full-year guidance.

On the other hand, jumps by shares of Facebook (FB) and Microsoft (MSFT) are helping to support the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

The social media giant and the software giant are up by 6.9 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively, after both reported quarterly results that exceeded analyst estimates on both the top and bottom lines.

Traders are also digesting a mixed batch of U.S. economic data ahead of the release of closely watched first quarter GDP data on Friday.

The Commerce Department released a report showing durable goods orders jumped by much more than expected in the month of March, reflecting a significant rebound in orders for transportation equipment,

The report said durable goods orders surged up by 2.7 percent in March after tumbling by a revised 1.1 percent in February.

Economists had expected durable goods orders to climb by 0.8 percent compared to the 1.6 percent slump originally reported for the previous month.

Excluding the spike in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders rose by 0.4 percent in March after edging down by a revised 0.2 percent in February.

Ex-transportation orders had been expected to inch up by 0.2 percent compared to the 0.1 percent uptick originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department released a separate report showing initial jobless claims rebounded by more than anticipated in the week ended April 20.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims climbed to 230,000, an increase of 37,000 from the previous week's revised level of 193,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 200,000.

The bigger than expected increase came after the number of jobless claims in the previous week represented their lowest level since hitting 182,000 in September of 1969.

Sector News

Tobacco stocks continue to see substantial weakness in mid-day trading, with the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index plunging by 3.5 percent. The index has tumbled to a two-month intraday low.

Considerable weakness also remains visible among networking stocks, as reflected by the 2.4 percent slump by the NYSE Arca Networking Index.

Netgear (NTGR) is posting a steep loss after reporting better than expected first quarter results but providing disappointing second quarter guidance.

Semiconductor, housing, and transportation stocks are also seeing significant weakness on the day, while Microsoft is leading the software sector sharply higher.

Reflecting the strength in the software sector, the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index has surged up by 2.1 percent to a record intraday high.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.5 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slumped by 0.9 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both dropped by 0.3 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are showing a lack of direction after moving notably higher over the two previous sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up less than a basis point at 2.527 percent.

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