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U.S. Stocks Fluctuate But Remain Mostly Positive

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After an early move to the upside, stocks have fluctuated over the course of the trading day on Wednesday but maintained a largely positive bias. The tech-heavy Nasdaq has shown a notable advance, climbing back toward last week's record highs.

Currently, the major averages are all in positive territory, although the Dow is up just 6.59 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 25,819.47. The Nasdaq is up 74.51 points or 0.7 percent at 10,133.28 and the S&P 500 is up 13.65 points or 0.4 percent at 3,113.94.

The strength on Wall Street comes after drug giant Pfizer (PFE) and German biotech company BioNTech (BNTX) announced positive data from an early-stage human trial of a potential coronavirus vaccine.

Pfizer and BioNTech said the most advanced of four investigational vaccine candidates was generally well tolerated and produced neutralizing antibodies.

Adding to the positive sentiment, the Institute for Supply Management released a report showing U.S. manufacturing activity unexpectedly expanded in the month of June.

The ISM said its purchasing managers index jumped to 52.6 in June from 43.1 in May, with a reading above 50 indicating an expansion in manufacturing activity.

Economists had expected the index to climb to 49.5, which have still indicated a modest contraction in manufacturing activity.

"As predicted, the growth cycle has returned after three straight months of COVID-19 disruptions," said Timothy R. Fiore, Chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

He added, "Demand, consumption and inputs are reaching parity and are positioned for a demand-driven expansion cycle as we enter the second half of the year."

A separate report released by payroll processor ADP showed a significant increase in private sector employment in the month of June as well as a substantial upward revision to the data for May.

ADP said private sector employment jumped by 2.369 million jobs in June, which was below economist estimates for a spike of about 3.000 million jobs.

However, revised data showed private sector employment soared by 3.065 million jobs in May compared to the previously reported loss of 2.760 million jobs.

Sector News

Interest rate sensitive utilities and commercial real estate stocks are seeing significant strength in mid-day trading, with the Dow Jones Utility Average and the Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Index climbing by 1.7 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

Notable strength also remains visible among airline stocks, although the NYSE Arca Airline Index has pulled back well off its early high. The index is currently up by 1.4 percent.

Retail stocks are also turning in a strong performance on the day, resulting in a 1.4 percent advance by the Dow Jones U.S. Retail Index.

On the other hand, gold stocks have moved sharply lower on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index down by 2 percent. The index ended the previous session at its best closing level in over a month.

The pullback by gold stocks comes as the price of gold for August delivery is plunging $25 to $1,775.50 an ounce after reaching a nearly nine-year high on Tuesday.

Energy, housing and banking stocks have also come under pressure over the course of the session, limiting the upside for the broader markets.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index slid by 0.8 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index jumped by 1.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European closed modestly lower following a choppy trading day. While the German DAX Index fell by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index both edged down by 0.2 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have climbed 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 1.8 basis points at 0.671 percent.

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