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U.S. Stocks Remain Modestly Higher In Mid-Day Trading

wallstreet aug23 01jun20 lt

Stocks have fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Monday but maintained a largely positive bias. With the upward move on the day, the major averages are adding to the strong gains posted last week.

In recent trading, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 have reached new highs for the session. The Dow is up 70.85 points or 0.3 percent at 25,453.96, the Nasdaq is up 51.83 points or 0.6 percent at 9,541.70 and the S&P 500 is up 9.51 points or 0.3 percent at 3,053.82.

The modest strength on Wall Street comes following the release of a report from the Institute for Supply Management showing U.S. manufacturing activity contracted at a slower rate in the month of May.

The ISM said its purchasing managers index rose to 43.1 in May from 41.5 in April, coming in just below economist estimates for a reading of 43.6.

While the index rebounded from its lowest level since April of 2009, a reading below 50 still indicates a contraction in manufacturing activity.

Nonetheless, Timothy R. Fiore, Chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, said the latest figure indicates expansion in the overall economy after April's contraction.

The report from the ISM comes on the heels of a private survey showing the Chinese manufacturing sector expanded in May.

The Caixin manufacturing PMI score came in at 50.7 in May, beating expectations for a score of 49.6 and up from 49.4 in April. A reading above 50 indicates an expansion in manufacturing activity.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed a sharp pullback in U.S. construction spending in the month of April, although the decrease was much smaller than economists had expected.

Traders remain generally optimistic about economies reopening despite political unrest across the country following the death of George Floyd, which has forced a number of major retailers to temporarily close their stores in areas hit hard by protests.

Sector News

Banking stocks continue to turn in some of the market's best performances in mid-day trading, with the KBW Bank Index surging up by 2.3 percent following the sharp pullback seen over the two previous sessions.

Considerable strength has also emerged among commercial real estate stocks, as reflected by the 2.3 percent jump by the Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Index. The index is on pace to end the session at its best closing level in well over two months.

Gold stocks have also moved sharply higher over the course of the session, driving the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index up by 2.1 percent.

The rally by gold stocks comes amid a modest increase by the price of the precious metal, with gold for August delivery edging up $1.60 to $1,753.30 an ounce.

Steel, brokerage and telecom stocks have also shown strong moves to the upside, while some weakness remains visible among pharmaceutical stocks.

Pfizer (PFE) is leading the pharmaceutical sector lower after the drug giant reported disappointing results from a phase 3 trial of its new breast cancer therapy.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Monday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index climbed by 0.8 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped by 3.4 percent.

European stocks also moved to the upside on the day, although several major markets were closed for public holidays. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 1.5 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have climbed well off their worst levels but continue to see modest weakness. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 1.9 basis points at 0.667 percent.

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