Nasdaq Posting Strong Gain In Mid-Day Trading, Dow Modestly Higher

While strength among technology stocks has contributed to a notable advance by the Nasdaq, the Dow and the S&P 500 continue to show a lack of direction in mid-day trading on Friday.

The major averages have all pulled back off their highs of the session in recent trading, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq remains up 88.55 points or 0.8 percent at 10,760.81.

The Dow is posting a much more modest gain, up 35.47 points or 0.1 percent at 26,850.91, while the S&P 500 is up 10.78 points or 0.3 percent at 3,257.37.

The Nasdaq is benefiting from notable gains by big-name tech companies like Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT), which are up by 1.7 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

The advance by Microsoft reflects strength in the software sector, with the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index climbing by 1.3 percent.

Cruise line operators Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH), Carnival (CCL), and Royal Caribbean (RCL) are also seeing considerable strength on the day after Barclays upgraded its rating on the stocks to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Meanwhile, most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, extending the lackluster performance seen in the previous session.

Energy and gold stocks are seeing some weakness amid a drop in commodities prices, partly offsetting the strength in the tech sector.

Uncertainty about the economic outlook may be keeping traders on the sidelines amid a second wave of coronavirus infections in Europe.

The U.K. and France both reported their biggest increases in new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began on Thursday.

The surge in cases in Europe has raised concerns about the economic impact of new restrictions, although President Donald Trump has ruled out another lockdown in the U.S.

Traders are also keeping an eye on developments in Washington amid reports House Democrats plan to unveil a new $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

The price tag for the bill is $1 trillion less than a stimulus package the House passed back in May but may still be too high for Republicans.

On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing a much smaller than expected increase in durable goods orders in the month of August.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders rose by 0.4 percent in August after soaring by an upwardly revised 11.7 percent in July.

Economists had expected durable goods orders to surge up by 1.5 percent compared to the 11.4 percent spike that had been reported for the previous month.

Excluding a 0.5 percent increase in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders still climbed by 0.4 percent in August following a 3.2 jump in July. Ex-transportation orders were expected to shoot up by 1.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the report said orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a reading on business spending, advanced by 1.8 percent in August after jumping by an upwardly revised 2.5 percent in July.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index climbed by 0.5 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index edged down by 0.1 percent.

The major European markets also finished the day mixed. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index slid by 0.7 percent and the German DAX Index slumped by 1.1 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are extending the modest upward move seen in the previous session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.2 basis points at 0.654 percent.

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