Major Averages Remain Mixed Amid Choppy Trading

After showing a lack of direction early in the session, stocks continue to turn in a lackluster performance in afternoon trading on Thursday. The major averages have spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

Currently, the major averages continue to turn in a mixed performance. While the Dow is up 107.66 points or 0.4 percent at 31,242.75, the S&P 500 is down 4.06 points or 0.1 percent at 3,941.95 and the Nasdaq is down 39.49 points or 0.3 percent at 11,680.19.

The choppy trading on Wall Street extends the volatility seen in the previous session as traders look ahead to next week’s Federal Reserve meeting.

Traders are assessing whether the substantial batch of U.S. economic data released this morning will have an impact on the Fed’s interest rate decision.

The slew of data included a report from the Commerce Department showing an unexpected increase in retail sales in the month of August, although the sales growth followed a revised decrease in July.

The report showed retail sales rose by 0.3 percent in August following a revised 0.4 percent decrease in July. Economists had expected retail sales to come in unchanged, matching the unchanged reading originally reported for the previous month.

Excluding a rebound in auto sales, retail sales fell by 0.3 percent in August following a revised unchanged reading in July.

Ex-auto sales were expected to inch up by 0.1 percent compared to the 0.4 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

A separate report released by the Labor Department unexpectedly showed another modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended September 10th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims slipped to 213,000, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 218,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 226,000 from the 222,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the unexpected dip, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 202,000 in the week ended May 28, 2022.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department released a report showing a continued decrease in U.S. import prices in August, potentially helping offset recent inflation concerns.

The Labor Department said import prices slid by 1.0 percent in August after tumbling by a revised 1.5 percent in July.

Economists had expected import prices to decrease by 1.2 percent compared to the 1.4 percent slump originally reported for the previous month.

The report also showed export prices dove by 1.6 percent in August after plummeting by a revised 3.7 percent in July.

Export prices were expected to decline by 1.1 percent compared to the 3.3 percent plunge originally reported for the previous month.

However, the Federal Reserve also released a report unexpectedly showing a modest decrease in U.S. industrial production in the month of August.

The report said industrial production edged down by 0.2 percent in August after climbing by a downwardly revised 0.5 percent in July.

Economists had expected industrial production to inch up by 0.2 percent compared to the 0.6 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

Sector News

While most of the major sectors continue to show only modest moves on the day, gold stocks have come under pressure over the course of the session amid a steep drop by the price of the precious metal.

With gold for December delivery plunging $33.30 to $1,675.80 an ounce, the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index has tumbled by 2.4 percent.

A sharp pullback by the price of crude oil is also weighing on energy stocks, with the Philadelphia Oil Service Index and the NYSE Arca Oil Index both slumping by 2.0 percent.

Utilities and natural gas stocks are also seeing notable weakness, while banking stocks have rallied, driving the KBW Bank Index up by 2.5 percent.

Biotechnology, healthcare and airline stocks have also shown strong moves to the upside over the course of the session.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index slumped by 1.2 percent.

The major European markets also finished the day mixed. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index inch up by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index fell by 0.6 percent and the French CAC 40 Index slumped by 1.0 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved to the downside over the course of the session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 4.5 basis points at 3.457 percent.

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