Stocks are mostly positive in mid-day trading on Thursday after showing a lack of direction earlier in the session. The tech-heavy Nasdaq has shown a notable move to the upside on the day, reaching its best intraday level in well over a month.
Currently, the Nasdaq is up 125.24 points or 0.9 percent at 13,814.08 and the S&P 500 is up 14.95 points or 0.4 percent at 4,094.90 Meanwhile, the narrower Dow is nearly unchanged, up 7.98 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 33,454.24.
The advance by the Nasdaq partly reflects strength among big-name tech stocks, with Tesla (TSLA), Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT) posting notable gains.
The strength among tech stocks comes following the Federal Reserve’s repeated assurances that monetary policy is likely to remain unchanged for the foreseeable future.
The minutes of the Fed’s March meeting reiterated that the central bank does not intend to change its ultra-loose monetary policy anytime soon.
The Fed stressed any changes to policy will be outcome-based, indicating interest rates will remain unchanged until the goals of maximum employment and inflation moderately above 2 percent for some time are achieved.
The minutes also showed officials are not concerned about the recent increase in Treasury yields, which the Fed attributed to investor optimism about the economic outlook and expectations of higher Treasury debt issuance.
In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly increased in the week ended April 3rd.
The report said initial jobless claims edged up to 744,000, an increase of 16,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 728,000.
Jobless claims rose for the second straight week after falling to a one-year low of 658,000 in the week ended March 20th.
The continued increase surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to drop to 680,000 from the 719,000 originally reported for the previous month.
Gold stocks continue to see considerable strength in mid-day trading, resulting in a 1.9 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index.
The strength among gold stocks comes amid a notable increase by the price of the precious metal, with gold for June delivery climbing $14.90 to $1,756.50 an ounce.
Significant strength also remains visible among software stocks, as reflected by the 1.6 percent gain being posted by the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index. The index has reached its best intraday level in well over a month.
On the other hand, natural gas stocks have shown a notable move to the downside on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index down by 1.8 percent.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Thursday, although Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index bucked the uptrend and edged down by 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index surged up by 1.2 percent.
The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.8 percent, the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.5 percent and the German DAX Index crept up by 0.2 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries have moved modestly higher after ending the previous session nearly flat. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.8 basis points at 1.635 percent.
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