U.S. Stocks May Show A Lack Of Direction In Early Trading

Following the strong upward move seen last week, stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Monday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a roughly flat open for the markets.

Traders may be reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy announcement on Wednesday.

The Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged, but traders will be paying close attention to any changes to the accompanying statement.

Some traders are hoping the Fed will address the recent spike in bond yields, which has led to considerable volatility in Wall Street in recent sessions.

U.S. economic reports on retail sales, industrial production, and housing starts may also attract attention in the coming days.

A report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York this morning showed an acceleration in the pace of growth in New York manufacturing activity in the month of March.

The New York Fed said its general business conditions index climbed to 17.4 in March from 12.1 in February, with a positive reading indicating growth in regional manufacturing activity. Economists had expected the index to rise to 14.5

Looking ahead, the New York Fed said firms remained optimistic that conditions would improve over the next six months, anticipating significant increases in employment.

Extending its winning streak to six consecutive sessions, the Dow showed a strong move to the upside during trading on Friday, The blue chip index jumped 293.05 points or 0.9 percent to a new record closing high of 32,778.64.

The S&P 500 also inched up 4.00 points or 0.1 percent to a new record closing high of 3,943.34, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed well off its worst levels of the day but still closed down 78.81 points or 0.6 percent at 13,319.86.

Despite the mixed performance on the day, the major averages all moved sharply higher for the week. The Dow soared by 4.1 percent, the Nasdaq surged up by 3.1 percent and the S&P 500 jumped by 2.6 percent.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Monday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index slumped by 1 percent.

The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. While the German DAX Index is down by 0.1 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index are both up by 0.1 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are sliding $0.53 to $65.08 a barrel after falling $0.41 to $65.61 a barrel last Friday. Meanwhile, after slipping $2.80 to $1,719.80 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are climbing $8.80 to $1,728.60 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 109.19 yen versus the 109.03 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Friday. Against the euro, the dollar is trading at $1.1924 compared to last Friday’s $1.1953.

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