After ending the previous session sharply lower, stocks have shown a lack of direction over the course of morning trading on Friday. The major averages have spent the morning bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.
Currently, the major averages are turning in a mixed performance. While the Nasdaq is down 57.25 points or 0.4 percent at 13,659.47, the Dow is up 24.20 points or 0.1 percent at 34,336.23 and the S&P 500 is up 0.30 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 4,380.56.
The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as traders seem reluctant to make significant moves amid uncertainty about the situation in Ukraine.
News that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken have agreed to meet in Europe next week has eased concerns about an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, but traders remain wary.
The geopolitical concerns along with uncertainty about the outlook for interest rates continue to weigh on investors’ minds.
On the U.S. economic front, the National Association of Realtors released a report unexpectedly showing a sharp increase in existing home sales in the month of January.
NAR said existing home sales spiked 6.7 percent to an annual rate of 6.50 million in January after tumbling 3.8 percent to a revised rate of 6.09 million in December.
The substantial rebound surprised economists, who had expected existing home sales to slump by 1.3 percent to a rate of 6.10 million from the 6.18 million originally reported for the previous month.
With the unexpected jump, existing home sales reached their highest annual rate since hitting 6.65 million in January of 2021.
Meanwhile, a separate report released by the Conference Board showed an unexpected pullback by its reading on leading U.S. economic indicators.
The Conference Board said its leading economic index fell by 0.3 percent in January after climbing by a downwardly revised 0.7 percent in December.
The dip came as a surprise to economists, who had expected the index to rise by 0.3 percent compared to the 0.8 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.
Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, contributing to the lackluster performance by the broader markets.
Oil service stocks have shown a significant move to the downside, however, with the Philadelphia Oil Service Index falling by 1.2 percent.
The weakness among oil service stocks comes amid a decrease by the price of crude oil, as crude for March delivery is sliding $0.73 to $91.03 a barrel.
Semiconductor stocks are also extending the steep drop seen in the previous session, while some strength is visible among transportation and steel stocks.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.4 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index climbed by 0.7 percent.
The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.1 percent and the German DAX Index is down by 1 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries are extending the notable upward move seen in the previous sessions. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 3.5 basis points at 1.937 percent.
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