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Major Averages Holding On To Modest Gains In Mid-Day Trading

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Stocks have pulled back off their best levels of the session but remain mostly higher in mid-day trading on Thursday. Earlier in the trading day, the Dow and the Nasdaq reached new record intraday highs.

Currently, the major averages are holding on to modest gains. The Dow is up 121.76 points or 0.4 percent at 31,182.23, the Nasdaq is up 55.41 points or 0.4 percent at 13,184.37 and the S&P 500 is up 6.23 points or 0.2 percent at 3,816.07.

Optimism about additional fiscal stimulus helped generate early buying interest, as President-elect Joe Biden is expected to unveil a major relief package later today.

A report from CNN citing two people briefed on the deliberations said the price tag for the package is expected to be in the ballpark of $2 trillion.

The package is expected to include an increase in direct payments to Americans as well as an extension of increased unemployment insurance and support for state and local governments.

The strength on Wall Street also comes following the release of a report from the Labor Department showing initial jobless claims jumped to their highest level in over four months in the week ended January 9th.

The report said initial jobless claims rose to 965,000, an increase of 181,000 from the previous week's revised level of 784,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 795,000 from the 787,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the bigger than expected increase, jobless claims reached their highest level since hitting 1.011 million in the week ended August 22nd.

Traders have recently viewed disappointing jobs data as a positive for the markets, as it could put further pressure on lawmakers to approve additional stimulus.

Sector News

Airline stocks continue to see considerable strength in mid-day trading, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index soaring by 4.6 percent. The index reached its best intraday level in a month earlier in the session.

Delta Air Lines (DAL) is posting a strong gain after the airline reported a wider than expected fourth quarter loss but CEO Ed Bastian said he is optimistic 2021 will be a "year of recovery."

Substantial strength also remains visible among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 3 percent jump by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index. The index has reached a new record intraday high.

Energy stocks are also seeing significant strength on the day even though the price of crude oil for February delivery has edged down $0.10 to $52.81 a barrel.

Networking, computer hardware and steel stocks have also shown notable moves to the upside amid broad based buying interest.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index jumped by 0.9 percent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index rose by 0.4 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.8 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index climbed by 0.4 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries are seeing modest weakness following the rebound seen in the previous session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by nearly a basis point at 1.097 percent.

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