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Moderate Strength Remains Visible On Wall Street - U.S. Commentary

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After an early move to the upside, stocks remain mostly positive in mid-day trading on Tuesday. The major averages are extending a recent upward trend, moving higher for the sixth time in seven sessions.

In recent trading, the Dow and the S&P 500 reached new highs for the session. The Dow is up 153.74 points or 0.6 percent at 26,067.84, the Nasdaq is up 36.01 points or 0.5 percent at 7,750.49 and the S&P 500 is up 14.41 points or 0.5 percent at 2,847.35.

The markets continue to benefit from recent upward momentum, which has lifted the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 to their best levels in over five months.

Optimism about U.S.-China trade talks has contributed to the buying interest on Wall Street along with indications the U.S. economy is holding up relatively well amid a global slowdown.

Trading activity is somewhat subdued, however, as the Federal Reserve's upcoming monetary policy decision keeps some traders on the sidelines.

The Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged on Wednesday, although traders are likely to keep a close eye on the accompanying statement for clues about the outlook for rates.

The central bank's economic projections and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's subsequent press conference are also likely to be in focus.

Traders have largely shrugged off a report from the Commerce Department showing new orders for U.S. manufactured goods edged only slightly higher in the month of January.

The Commerce Department said factory orders inched up by 0.1 percent in January, matching the 0.1 percent uptick in December. Economists had expected orders to rise by 0.3 percent.

Steel stocks have moved significantly higher over the course of the session, driving the NYSE Arca Steel Index up by 1.5 percent.

Considerable strength also remains visible among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 1.2 percent gain being posted by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index. The index has risen to a six-month intraday high.

Retail and gold stocks are also seeing notable strength in mid-day trading, while most of the other major sectors are showing more modest moves.

In overseas trading, most stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved modestly lower during trading on Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei 2225 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index dipped by 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index has jumped by 1.2 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index are up by 0.4 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have climbed off their worst levels of the session but remain modestly lower. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 1.2 basis points at 2.614 percent.

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