U.S. Stocks Fluctuate But Remain Mostly Positive

Stocks have fluctuated over the course of the trading day on Friday but largely maintained a positive bias. The Dow has shown a notable move to the upside on the day, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq has shown a lack of direction.

Currently, the major averages are all in positive territory. The Dow is up 275.24 points or 0.8 percent at 34,359.39, the Nasdaq is up 10.99 points or 0.1 percent at 13,546.72 and the S&P 500 is up 18.21 points or 0.4 percent at 4,177.33.

Stocks are extending the upward seen during trading on Thursday, which helped the major averages snap a three-day losing streak.

Optimism about the economic outlook has contributed to the continued strength on Wall Street after yesterday’s jobless claims data.

The Labor Department report showed initial jobless claims once again dropped to their lowest level in well over a year.

The data further reinforced the view that the disappointing monthly employment report for April was an anomaly and not a sign of an economic downturn.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors released a report this morning showing an unexpected decrease in existing home sales in the month of April.

NAR said existing home sales tumbled by 2.7 percent to an annual rate of 5.85 million in April after plunging by 3.7 percent to a rate of 6.01 million in March. The slump surprised economists, who had expected existing home sales to surge up by 2.0 percent.

Existing home sales declined for the third straight month but were still up by 33.9 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

Banking stocks have shown a significant move to the upside on the day, driving the KBW Bank Index up by 2 percent.

Considerable strength is also visible among oil service stocks, as reflected by the 1.3 percent gain being posted by the Philadelphia Oil Service Index.

The strength in the oil service sector comes amid a sharp increase by the price of crude oil, with crude for July delivery jumping $1.80 to $63.74 a barrel.

Chemical, brokerage and airline stocks are also seeing notable strength on the day, moving higher along with most of the other major sectors.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.8 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is just above the unchanged line, the German DAX Index is up by 0.5 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.7 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have shown a lack of direction after moving notably higher in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by less than a basis point at 1.628 percent.

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