Stocks May Show A Lack Of Direction Following Recent Volatility

WASHINGTON (Alliance News) - Stocks have shown a lack of direction over the course of morning trading on Friday on the heels of rally seen late in the previous session. The major averages have spent the morning bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

Currently, the major averages are posting slim gains. The Dow is up 4.61 points or less than a tenth of a % at 23,143.43, the Nasdaq is up 3.45 points or 0.1% at 6,582.94 and the S&P 500 is up 1.24 points or 0.1% at 2,490.07.

The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as traders seem to be taking a breather following the substantial volatility seen over the past several sessions.

Stocks moved sharply lower over much of the trading session on Thursday before skyrocketing in the final hour of trading.

The late-day rebound extended recent volatility after stocks sold off on Christmas Eve before staging an historic rebound on Wednesday.

Many traders remain away from their desks following the Christmas Day holiday on Tuesday and ahead of the New Year's Day holiday next Tuesday.

On the US economic front, the National Association of Realtors released a report showing a continued drop in pending home sales in the month of November.

NAR said its pending home sales index fell by 0.7% to 101.4 in November after plunging by 2.6% to 102.1 in October. The continued decline in pending home sales matched economist estimates.

A pending home sale is one in which a contract was signed but not yet closed. Normally, it takes four to six weeks to close a contracted sale.

While pending contracts have fallen to their lowest level since 2014, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said there is no reason to be overly concerned and predicts solid growth potential for the long-term.

A separate report from MNI Indicators showed growth in Chicago-area business activity pulled back in December after accelerating sharply in November, although the pace of growth slowed by much less than anticipated.

MNI Indicators said its Chicago business barometer dipped to 65.4 in December after spiking to 66.4 in November, with a reading above 50 still indicating growth in regional business activity. Economists had expected the barometer to drop to 62.0.

Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, contributing to the lackluster performance by the broader markets.

Natural gas stocks are seeing considerable weakness, however, with the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index sliding by 1.3%.

Oil and gold stocks have also shown notable moves to the downside, while modest strength is visible among oil service, semiconductor, and tobacco stocks.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Friday, although Japan's Nikkei 225 Index bucked the uptrend and fell by 0.3%. China's Shanghai Composite Index rose by 0.4%, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index jumped by 1%.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the upside on the day. While the UK's FTSE 100 Index has surged up by 2.1%, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are both up by 1.7%.

In the bond market, treasuries have climbed back near the unchanged line after seeing initial weakness. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is unchanged at 2.743%.

Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX

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