U.S. Stocks Fluctuate After Early Upward Move But Remain Mostly Positive

After an early move to the upside, stocks have fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Wednesday but largely maintained a positive bias. The major averages have all moved higher and reached their best intraday levels in three months in early trading.

Currently, the major averages are well off their highs of the session but holding on to gains. The Dow is up 134.05 points or 0.4 percent at 35,222.34, the Nasdaq is up 69.92 points or 0.5 percent at 14,269.90 and the S&P 500 is up 16.33 points or 0.4 percent at 4,554.52.

The strength on Wall Street comes as continued optimism about the outlook for interest rates has contributed to renewed buying interest following the pullback on Tuesday.

While the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting failed to provide any indications the central bank plans to cut interest rates in the near future, CME Group’s FedWatch Tool still suggests the next move will be a rate cut in mid-2024.

Stocks may also be benefitting from easing concerns about the conflict in the Middle East after Hamas and Israel agreed to a Qatar-mediated pause in fighting.

However, buying interest has waned from earlier in the session amid a turnaround by treasury yields, with the yield on the benchmark ten-year note climbing into positive territory after hitting a two-month low.

On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell by more than expected in the week ended November 18th.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 209,000, a decrease of 24,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 233,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 225,000 from the 231,000 originally reported for the previous week.

A separate report released by the Commerce Department showed new orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods pulled back by much more than expected in the month of October.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders plunged by 5.4 percent in October after surging by 4.6 percent in September. Economists had expected durable goods orders to tumble by 3.1 percent.

The sharp pullback in durable goods orders came as orders for transportation equipment plummeted by 14.8 percent in October after spiking by 11.6 percent in September.

Excluding the steep drop in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders were virtually unchanged in October after edging up by 0.2 percent in September. Ex-transportation orders were expected to inch up by 0.1 percent.

The University of Michigan also released revised data showing consumer sentiment in the U.S. deteriorated by less than previously estimated in the month of November

The University of Michigan said its consumer sentiment index for November was upwardly revised to 61.3 from a preliminary reading of 60.4. The upwardly revised reading is well above economist estimates for 60.5 but is still down from 63.8 in October.

Sector News

Airline stocks are showing a significant rebound after falling sharply on Thursday, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index soaring by 3.8 percent to its best intraday level in two months.

Considerable strength is also visible among networking stocks, as reflected by the 1.3 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Networking Index.

Retail and software stocks are also seeing notable strength, while energy stocks have moved to the downside amid a steep drop by the price of crude oil.

With crude for January delivery plummeting $3.32 or 4.3 percent to $74.45 a barrel, the NYSE Arca Oil Index is down by 1.1 percent and the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is down by 1.0 percent.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance during trading on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.3 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, European stocks have moved mostly higher on the day. The French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.6 percent and the German DAX Index is up by 0.5 percent, although the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has bucked the uptrend and edged down by 0.2 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have come under pressure after an early move to the upside. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 1.5 basis points at 4.443 percent after hitting a low of 4.365 percent.

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