Stocks have fluctuated over the course of morning trading on Thursday, as traders seem somewhat reluctant to make significant moves. While the tech-heavy Nasdaq is extending the rally seen in the previous session, the Dow and the S&P 500 have moved moderately lower.
Currently, the major averages remain stuck on opposite sides of the unchanged line. The Nasdaq is up 33.14 points or 0.3 percent at 11,819.58, but the Dow is down 146.44 points or 0.5 percent at 29,251.19 and the S&P 500 is down 11.46 points or 0.3 percent at 3,561.20.
The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as traders express some uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets after the major averages spiked to new record intraday highs on Monday.
The major averages have turned in a mixed performance in the sessions since then, as traders cycle in and out of technology and cyclical stocks.
Upbeat news on the coronavirus vaccine front has contributed to the rally on Monday, although the positive sentiment has been partly offset by a continued surge in cases across the U.S. and Europe.
Indications that the distribution of a potential vaccine is likely to face significant logistical challenges may also be keeping traders from making significant bets.
On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing a bigger than expected decrease in first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended November 7th.
The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell to 709,000, a decrease of 48,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 757,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 735,000 from the 751,000 originally reported for the previous week.
With the bigger than expected decrease, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since before lockdowns were imposed in mid-March.
A separate report released by the Labor Department showed consumer prices came in flat in the month of October.
The Labor Department said its consumer price index was unchanged in October after rising by 0.2 percent in September. Economists had expected another 0.2 percent uptick.
Excluding food and energy prices, consumer prices were still flat in October after edging up by 0.2 percent in September. Core prices were also expected to inch up by another 0.2 percent.
Many of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, although considerable weakness has emerged among banking stocks.
Reflecting the weakness in the banking sector, the KBW Bank Index is down by 1.7 percent. The index continues to give back ground after reaching a five-month closing high on Tuesday.
Oil stocks have also come under pressure in morning trading, dragging the NYSE Arca Oil Index down by 1.3 percent. The weakness in the sector comes despite an increase by the price of crude oil.
Tobacco, brokerage and utility stocks are also seeing notable weakness, while gold stocks are rebounding amid an increase by the price of the precious metal.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower on Thursday, although Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index bucked the downtrend and rose by 0.7 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index edged down by 0.1 percent and South Korea’s Kospi fell by 0.4 percent.
The major European markets have also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has slid by 0.7 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index are down by 1.1 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries are regaining ground after trending lower over the past several sessions. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 5.6 basis points at 0.916 percent.
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