U.S. Stocks Move Back To The Upside, Nasdaq Just Shy Of New Record High

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Stocks have moved moderately higher in morning trading on Thursday, regaining ground after ending the previous session mostly lower. After bucking the downtrend on Wednesday, the tech-heavy Nasdaq is closing in on a new record intraday high.

Currently, the major averages are hovering in positive territory. The Dow is up 154.60 points or 0.4 percent at 34,947.27, the Nasdaq is up 63.80 points or 0.4 percent at 14,844.33 and the S&P 500 is up 14.30 points or 0.3 percent at 4,416.96.

The strength on Wall Street comes following the release of a report from the Labor Department showing a modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended July 31st.

The report said initial jobless claims slipped to 385,000, a decrease of 14,000 from the previous week's revised level of 399,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 384,000 from the 400,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Chris Low, Chief Economist at FHN Financial, said the total number of unemployment recipients fell by 1.5 million between the June and July surveys, suggesting a "hefty" increase in employment in the Labor Department's closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.

Economists currently expect the report to show employment surged up by 870,000 jobs in July after jumping by 850,000 jobs in June. The unemployment rate is expected to dip to 5.7 percent from 5.9 percent.

Meanwhile, a separate report from the Commerce Department showed the U.S. trade deficit widened by more than expected in the month of June, reaching a new record high.

The Commerce Department said the trade deficit widened to $75.7 billion in June from a revised $71.0 billion in May.

Economists had expected the trade deficit to widen to $74.1 billion from the $71.2 billion originally reported for the previous month.

The wider than expected trade deficit came as the value of imports jumped by 2.1 percent to $283.4 billion, while the value of exports rose by 0.6 percent to $207.7 billion.

Airline stocks are showing a substantial rebound after moving sharply lower in the previous session, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index soaring by 3.1 percent following a 2.4 percent nosedive on Wednesday.

Significant strength is also visible among energy stocks, which are bouncing back along with the price of crude oil. Crude for September delivery is rising $0.25 to $68.40 a barrel after plunging $2.41 to $68.15 a barrel in the previous session.

Reflecting the strength in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is up by 2.7 percent and the NYSE Arca Oil Index is up by 2.2 percent.

Brokerage, natural gas and tobacco stocks are also seeing notable strength on the day, while steel and gold stocks have moved to the downside.

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 China's Shanghai Composite Index dipped by 0.3 percent.

The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has edged down by 0.2 percent, the German DAX Index is up by 0.2 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.5 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved steadily lower over the course of the morning. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 3 basis points at 1.214 percent.

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