WASHINGTON (Alliance News) - After showing a lack of direction in early trading on Thursday, stocks have moved modestly higher over the course of the trading day. Buying interest has remained relatively subdued, however, limiting the upside for the markets.
The major averages have moved roughly sideways in recent trading, hovering in positive territory. The Dow is up 36.28 points or 0.2% at 16,688.08, the Nasdaq is up 9.75 points or 0.2% at 4,443.87 and the S&P 500 is up 5.33 points or 0.3% at 1,952.05.
The modest strength that has emerged on Wall Street partly reflects easing concerns about the situation in Ukraine following comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
During a visit to the Crimea region, Putin claimed that Russia will do everything possible to end the conflict between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists
"We will do all we can to end the conflict as soon as possible, to stop the bloodshed in Ukraine," Putin said in a meeting with members of State Duma political party groups.
Traders are also reacting to a report from the US Labor Department showing that initial jobless claims rose by more than expected in the week ended August 9th.
The report said initial jobless claims climbed to 311,000, an increase of 21,000 from the previous week's revised level of 290,000. Economists had been expecting jobless claims to edge up to 295,000.
While the report initially offset early buying interest, the data may be helping to further ease concerns about the outlook for interest rates.
The Labor Department also released a separate report showing a modest drop in US import prices in July amid a notable pullback in fuel prices.
In corporate news, shares of Cisco have moved notably lower after the networking giant reported fourth quarter earnings and revenues that topped expectations but issued lukewarm guidance for the first quarter. The company also announced plans to cut 6,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, Wal-Mart is posting a modest gain after reporting second quarter earnings that matched analyst estimates on revenues that came in above expectations. The retail giant also cut its full-year profit forecast.
Despite the upward move by the broader markets, most of the major sectors continue to show only modest moves in mid-day trading.
Notable strength has emerged among airline stocks, however, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index climbing by 1.2%. United Continental (UAL) and American Airlines (AAL) are turning in two of the sector's best performances.
Biotechnology stocks have also shown a strong move to the upside, driving the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index up by 1%.
Computer hardware, housing, and utilities stocks are also seeing some strength on the day, although buying interest has remained subdued.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in yet another mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.7%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell by 0.4%.
Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside. While the UK's FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.4%, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both rose by 0.3%.
In the bond market, treasuries have pulled back near the unchanged line after moving higher earlier in the 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 2.412%.
Original headline: Stocks Move Modestly Higher Amid Easing Ukraine Concerns - US Commentary
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