U.S. Stocks Continue To Turn In Strong Performance

After an early move to the upside, stocks continue to turn in a strong performance in mid-day trading on Thursday. With the upward move on the day, the major averages are adding to the gains posted in the previous session to reach new record intraday highs.

In recent trading, the Dow and the S&P 500 have reached new highs for the session. The Dow is up 230.83 points or 0.8 percent at 28,975.92, the Nasdaq is up 79.26 points or 0.9 percent at 9,208.50 and the S&P 500 is up 21.12 points or 0.7 percent at 3,274.17.

Easing concerns about the conflict between the U.S. and Iran have contributed to the continued strength on Wall Street amid signs of de-escalation.

President Donald Trump indicated in remarks on Wednesday that the U.S. would not respond militarily to the Iranian missile strikes on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops.

Trump had previously threatened a harsh response to any attack by Iran but now says he will only impose new sanctions on Iran’s already struggling economy.

The latest developments seem to confirm earlier views that the notable pullback by the markets last Friday was as a temporary blip in the recent upward momentum that has continually propelled stocks to new record highs.

Nonetheless, overall trading activity seems somewhat subdued ahead of the release of the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report on Friday.

Economists expect employment to increase by 164,000 jobs in December after spiking by 266,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate is expected to hold at 3.5 percent.

With the more closely watched monthly report looming, the Labor Department released a report this morning showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by more than expected in the week ended January 4th.

The report said initial jobless claims dropped to 214,000, a decrease of 9,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 223,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 220,000 from the 222,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Sector News

Software stocks are extending the strong upward move seen in the previous session, driving the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index up by 1.2 percent to a record intraday high.

Notable strength has also emerged among brokerage stocks, as reflected by the 1.1 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index.

Biotechnology and healthcare stocks are also seeing some strength on the day, while considerable weakness is visible among natural gas and gold stocks.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved notably higher during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index spiked by 2.3 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index surged up by 1.7 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index jumped by 1.3 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries are extending the notable downward move seen over the course of the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 2.1 basis points at 1.895 percent.

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