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U.S. Stocks Seeing Modest Strength In Morning Trading

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Stocks have moved modestly higher in morning trading on Friday, adding to the slim gains posted in the previous session. The major averages have all climbed into positive territory, although buying interest has remained somewhat subdued.

Currently, the major averages are hovering just above the unchanged line. The Dow is up 64.65 points or 0.2 percent at 27,287.62, the Nasdaq is up 17.96 points or 0.2 percent at 8,225.21 and the S&P 500 is up 4.52 points or 0.2 percent at 2,999.63.

The strength in Wall Street partly reflects a positive reaction to upbeat earnings news from Microsoft (MSFT), with the software giant advancing by 1.7 percent.

The advance by Microsoft comes after the company reported fiscal fourth quarter results that exceeded analyst estimates on both the top and bottom lines.

The markets also continue to benefit from optimism about a near-term interest rate cut following comments from New York Federal Reserve President John Williams on Thursday

Williams said it "pays to act quickly to lower rates at the first sign of economic distress," arguing it is "better to take preventative measures than to wait for disaster to unfold."

However, a New York Fed spokesman later claimed Williams' remarks were based on years of research and not specifically about potential policy actions at the upcoming Fed meeting.

The University of Michigan released a report showing a slight improvement in U.S. consumer sentiment in the month of July.

The preliminary report showed the consumer sentiment index inched up to 98.4 in July from the final June reading of 98.2. Economists had expected the index to edge up to 98.5.

"Consumer sentiment remained largely unchanged in early July from June, remaining at quite favorable levels since the start of 2017," said Surveys of Consumers chief economist Richard Curtin.

Software stocks have moved notably higher on the heels of the upbeat earnings news from Microsoft, with the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index climbing by 1.1 percent.

Considerable strength has also emerged among steel stocks, as reflected by the 1.1 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Steel Index.

On the other hand, gold stocks are giving back ground following yesterday's rally, dragging the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index down by 1.8 percent.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved significantly higher during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index soared by 2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jump by 1.1 percent.

The major European markets have shown more modest moves to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index is just above the unchanged line, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index are both up by 0.1 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have shown a slight uptick following the late-day strength in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by nearly a basis point at 2.047 percent.

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