Major Averages Hovering In Positive Territory In Afternoon Trading

Stocks moved to the upside early in the session on Wednesday and remain mostly positive in afternoon trading. With the upward move on the day, the major averages have more than offset the pullback seen in the previous session.

The major averages have moved roughly sideways in recent trading, hovering in positive territory. The Dow is up 183.09 points or 0.5 percent at 35,271.38, the Nasdaq is up 93.61 points or 0.7 percent at 14,293.59 and the S&P 500 22.53 points or 0.5 percent at 4,560.72.

The strength on Wall Street comes as continued optimism about the outlook for interest rates has contributed to renewed buying interest following the pullback on Tuesday.

While the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting failed to provide any indications the central bank plans to cut interest rates in the near future, CME Group’s FedWatch Tool still suggests the next move will be a rate cut in mid-2024.

Stocks may also be benefitting from easing concerns about the conflict in the Middle East after Hamas and Israel agreed to a Qatar-mediated pause in fighting.

However, buying interest has waned from earlier in the session amid a turnaround by treasury yields, with the yield on the benchmark ten-year note climbing into positive territory after hitting a two-month low.

On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell by more than expected in the week ended November 18th.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 209,000, a decrease of 24,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 233,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 225,000 from the 231,000 originally reported for the previous week.

A separate report released by the Commerce Department showed new orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods pulled back by much more than expected in the month of October.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders plunged by 5.4 percent in October after surging by 4.6 percent in September. Economists had expected durable goods orders to tumble by 3.1 percent.

The sharp pullback in durable goods orders came as orders for transportation equipment plummeted by 14.8 percent in October after spiking by 11.6 percent in September.

Excluding the steep drop in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders were virtually unchanged in October after edging up by 0.2 percent in September. Ex-transportation orders were expected to inch up by 0.1 percent.

The University of Michigan also released revised data showing consumer sentiment in the U.S. deteriorated by less than previously estimated in the month of November

The University of Michigan said its consumer sentiment index for November was upwardly revised to 61.3 from a preliminary reading of 60.4. The upwardly revised reading is well above economist estimates for 60.5 but is still down from 63.8 in October.

Sector News

Networking stocks are turning in a strong performance in afternoon trading, resulting in a 1.2 percent advanced by the NYSE Arca Networking Index.

Significant strength is also visible among retail stocks, with the Dow Jones U.S. Retail Index climbing by 1.2 percent to its best closing level in well over a year.

Software and airline stocks are also seeing notable strength on the day, while most of the other major sectors are showing more modest moves.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance during trading on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.3 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.8 percent.

The major European markets also finished the day mixed. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index dipped by 0.2 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both climbed by 0.4 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have pulled back near the unchanged line after an early move to the upside. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by less than a basis point at 4.424 percent after hitting a low of 4.365 percent.

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