Buying interest has remained somewhat subdued, but stocks continue to see modest strength in mid-day trading on Friday. An initial upward move lifted the Dow and the S&P 500 to new record intraday highs.

Currently, the Dow and the S&P 500 remain positive, while the Nasdaq is nearly flat. While the Nasdaq is up just 4.44 points of less than a tenth of a percent at 14,043.20, the Dow is up 93.09 points or 0.3 percent at 34,129.08 and the S&P 500 is up 9.62 points or 0.2 percent at 4,180.04.

The markets continue to benefit from yesterday’s strong U.S. economic data, with upbeat economic data from China adding to optimism about a global economic recovery.

A report from the National Bureau of Statistics showed the Chinese economy saw record growth in the first quarter, as GDP spiked 18.3 percent year-over-year.

Upbeat earnings news has also generated continued buying interest, as Morgan Stanley (MS) has joined other financial giants in reporting better than expected first quarter earnings.

On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing a substantial rebound in new residential construction in the month of March.

The Commerce Department said housing starts skyrocketed by 19.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.739 million in March after plunging by 11.3 percent to a revised rate of 1.457 million in February.

Economists had expected housing starts to spike by 13.5 percent to a rate of 1.613 million from the 1.421 million originally reported for the previous month.

With the bigger than expected increase, housing starts reached their highest level since hitting an annual rate of 1.802 million in June of 2006.

Meanwhile, the University of Michigan released a report showing sentiment has continued to improve in April but by much less than anticipated.

The preliminary report showed the consumer sentiment index rose to 86.5 in April after soaring to 84.9 in March. Economists had expected the index to jump to 89.6.

Despite the much smaller than expected increase, the consumer sentiment index still reached its highest level since hitting 89.1 in March of 2020.

Sector News

Housing stocks continue to see considerable strength following the strong housing starts data, with the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index climbing by 1.3 percent.

Earlier in the session, the housing sector index reached its highest intraday level since a two-for-one split in early 2006.

Significant strength also remains visible among chemical stocks, as reflected by the 1.2 percent gain being posted by the S&P Chemical Sector Index. The index has reached a record intraday high.

Gold, computer hardware, and steel stocks are also seeing notable strength in mid-day trading, while oil service stocks are extending the pullback seen in the previous session.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index advanced by 0.8 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index surged up by 1.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 0.9 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.5 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are giving back ground after ending the previous session sharply higher. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 5 basis points at 1.580 percent.

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