Major Averages Holding On To Modest Gains In Mid-Day Trading

After recovering from an early move to the upside, stocks remain mostly positive in mid-day trading on Tuesday. With the turnaround on the day, the major averages are adding to the strong gains posted in the previous session.

Currently, the major averages are off their best levels of the day but holding on to modest gains. The Dow is up 67.59 points or 0.3 percent at 22,395.07, the Nasdaq is up 40.62 points or 0.5 percent at 7,814.77 and the S&P 500 is up 3.88 points or 0.2 percent at 2,630.53.

The early rebound on Wall Street came as separate reports on consumer confidence and Chicago-area business activity showed deteriorations in March but still came in well above economist estimates.

A report from the Conference Board showed its consumer confidence index slumped to 120.0 in March from an upwardly revised 132.6 in February.

However, economists had expected the consumer confidence index to tumble to 110.0 from the 130.7 originally reported for the previous month.

MNI Indicators released a separate report showing its Chicago business barometer fell to 47.8 in March from 49.0 in February, with a reading below 50 indicating a contraction in regional business activity.

The Chicago business barometer remained below 50 for the ninth straight month but showed a relatively modest decrease compared to economist estimates for a slump to 40.0.

The better than expected data has offset some of the concerns about the economic impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

A report showing an unexpected expansion in Chinese manufacturing activity in the month of March has also helped to alleviate the worries.

The latest survey from the National Bureau of Statistics showed China’s purchasing managers index jumped to 52.0 in March from 35.7 in February, with a reading above 50 indicting an expansion.

Economists had expected the index to climb to 45.0, although a reading below 50 would have indicated a continued contraction in Chinese manufacturing activity.

Positive sentiment may also have been generated in reaction to Dr. Anthony Fauci telling CNN he is starting to see “glimmers” that social distancing is helping to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.

Sector News

Energy stocks continue to turn in some of the market’s best performances in mid-day trading, benefiting from a rebound by the price of crude oil.

Crude for May delivery is climbing $0.37 to $20.46 a barrel after ending the previous session at an eighteen-year closing low.

Reflecting the strength in the energy sector, the NYSE Arca Oil Index and the Philadelphia Oil Service Index are soaring by 5.5 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively, while the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index is jumping by 3.2 percent.

Substantial strength is also visible among steel stocks, as reflected by the 4.5 percent spike by the NYSE Arca Steel Index.

Tobacco and gold stocks are also seeing considerable strength in mid-day trading, while commercial estate and utilities stocks are showing significant moves to the downside.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Tuesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slid by 0.9 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index surged up by 1.9 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.4 percent, the German DAX Index jumped by 1.2 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index spiked by 2 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are giving back ground after moving notably higher over the past few sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 1.2 basis points at 0.682 percent.

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