After showing a lack of direction early in the session, stocks continue to turn in a lackluster performance in mid-day trading on Thursday. The major averages have spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.
Currently, the major averages are all little changed. While the Nasdaq is up 7.54 points or 0.1 percent at 14,639.50, the Dow is down 51.97 points or 0.2 percent at 34,746.03 and the S&P 500 is down 3.98 points or 0.1 percent at 4,354.71.
The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as traders seem reluctant to make significant moves following the volatility seen over the past few days, which saw the major averages plunge on Monday only to rebound strongly on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The advance seen over the past two days more than offset the sell-off to start the week, although the major averages remain below the record closing highs set last Monday.
Traders are also digesting some mixed economic data, including a report from the Labor Department showing an unexpected increase in initial jobless claims in the week ended July 17th.
The Labor Department said initial jobless claims climbed to 419,000, an increase of 51,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 368,000.
The rebound surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to edge down to 350,000 from the 360,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Meanwhile, a separate report from the National Association of Realtors showing existing home sales rebounded in the month of June following four straight monthly declines.
NAR said existing home sales jumped by 1.4 percent to an annual rate of 5.86 million in June after slumping by 1.2 percent to a revised rate of 5.78 million in May.
Economists had expected existing home sales to surge up by 1.7 percent to a rate of 5.90 million from the 5.80 million originally reported for the previous month.
With the monthly increase, existing home sales rebounded after falling to their lowest level in eleven months in May.
Despite the lackluster performance by the broader markets, oil service stocks are seeing substantial weakness after rebounding strongly over the two previous sessions, dragging the Philadelphia Oil Service Index down by 2.5 percent.
The pullback by oil service stocks comes even though the price of crude oil for August delivery is climbing $0.72 to $71.02 a barrel.
Banking stocks have also come under pressure over the course of the session, resulting in a 2 percent slump by the KBW Bank Index.
Considerable weakness also remains visible among networking stocks, as reflected by the 1.5 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Networking Index.
Netgear (NTGR) has led the sector lower, plunging by 9.3 percent after reporting second quarter results that missed estimates and providing disappointing guidance.
Oil producer, natural gas and brokerage stocks are also seeing notable weakness on the day, while software stocks have shown a strong move to the upside.
Reflecting the strength in the software sector, the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index had advanced by 1.2 percent to a new record intraday high.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.6 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index surged up by 1.8 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index edged up by 0.3 percent and the German DAX Index climbed by 0.6 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries have moved back to the upside following the pullback seen over the two previous sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 3.7 basis points at 1.243 percent.
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