U.S. Stocks Turning In Mixed Performance Following Recent Strength

After moving sharply higher over the three previous sessions, the major U.S. stock indexes have moved in opposite directions during trading on Friday. While the tech-heavy Nasdaq is extending the recent upward move, the Dow is giving back ground.

Currently, the major averages remain on opposite sides of the unchanged line. The Nasdaq is up 67.79 points or 0.5 percent at 13,682.57, but the Dow is down 122.97 points or 0.4 percent at 34,357.79 and the S&P 500 is down 2.26 points or 0.1 percent at 4,409.41.

The mixed performance on Wall Street comes as traders seem to be taking a breather following the recent volatility in the markets.

Traders are also keeping an eye on the latest developments in the Russia-Ukraine war, as ongoing peace talks have thus far failed to yield a breakthrough.

President Joe Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the conflict this morning, with Biden expected to deliver a warning that Beijing will pay a price if it supports Russia’s war effort.

In U.S. economic news, the National Association of Realtors released a report showing a sharp pullback in U.S. existing home sales in the month of February.

NAR said existing home sales plunged by 7.2 percent to an annual rate of 6.02 million in February after surging by 6.6 percent to a revised rate of 6.49 million in January.

Economists had expected existing home sales to tumble by 6.2 percent to a rate of 6.10 million from the 6.50 million originally reported for the previous month.

The steeper than expected pullback came after existing home sales reached their highest annual rate in a year in January.

A separate report from the Conference Board showed its U.S. leading economic index rose by slightly more than expected in the month of February.

The Conference Board said its leading economic index increased by 0.3 percent in February after falling by a revised 0.5 percent in January.

Economists had expected the leading economic index to edge up by 0.2 percent compared to the 0.3 percent drop originally reported for the previous month.

Tobacco stocks are extending the strong upward move seen over the past few sessions, driving the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index up by 2.1 percent.

Significant strength has also emerged among airline stocks, as reflected by the 1.4 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Airline Index.

Meanwhile, banking stocks are giving back ground along with treasury yields, dragging the KBW Bank Index down by 1.7 percent.

Steel stocks have also moved to the downside, with U.S. Steel (X) leading the sector lower after providing disappointing guidance for the current quarter.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index jumped by 1.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have moved to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index is down by 0.4 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.3 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.2 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved higher after ending the previous session roughly flat. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 3.5 basis points at 2.157 percent.

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