By RTT News,
January 17, 2014, 12:04:00 PM EDT
(RTTNews.com) - After turning in a lackluster performance over the course of the previous session, stocks continue to show a lack of direction during trading on Friday. The choppy trading comes as traders digest a mixed batch of earnings and economic news.
The major averages currently remain on opposite sides of the unchanged line. While the Dow is up 48.52 points or 0.3 percent at 16,465.53, the Nasdaq is down 6.80 points or 0.2 percent at 4,211.89 and the S&P 500 is down 1.49 points or 0.1 percent at 1,844.40.
The lackluster performance on Wall Street reflects uncertainty about the outlook for corporate results following mixed earnings news big name companies such as Intel ( INTC ), American Express ( AXP ), General Electric ( GE ), and Morgan Stanley (MS).
After the close of trading on Thursday, Intel reported fourth quarter earnings that rose year-over-year but came in just below analyst estimates. The semiconductor giant also provided disappointing revenue guidance.
Credit card giant American Express also released its fourth quarter results after the close of yesterday's trading, reporting net income that more than doubled compared to the year-ago quarter.
General Electric reported fourth quarter earnings that matched analyst estimates, while Morgan Stanley's results came in above expectations.
Intel and GE have come under pressure following the release of their results, while AmEx and Morgan Stanley are moving to the upside.
Traders are also reacting to reports showing a pullback in housing starts and an increase in industrial production that came roughly in line with economist estimate.
The Commerce Department said housing starts fell 9.8 percent to an annual rate of 999,000 in December after jumping 23.1 percent to the revised November estimate of 1.107 million.
Economists had expected housing starts to drop to an annual rate of 985,000 from the 1.091 million originally reported for the previous month, reflecting a 9.7 percent decrease.
Additionally, the Federal Reserve said industrial production increased by 0.3 percent in December after jumping by a revised 1.0 percent in November.
The December increase matched economist estimates, while the previous month's growth was downwardly revised from 1.1 percent.
While most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves, considerable strength is visible among gold stocks. The NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index has surged up by 3.5 percent to its best intraday level in almost two months.
The strength among gold stocks comes amid a notable increase by the price of the precious metal, with gold for February delivery climbing $12.90 to $1,253.10 an ounce.
Meanwhile, housing stocks have come under pressure on the day, dragging the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index down by 1.2 percent. Hovnanian Enterprises ( HOV ) and Lennar (LEN) are turning in two of the sector's worst performances.
Significant weakness is also visible among trucking stocks, as reflected by the 1.1 percent loss being posted by the Dow Jones Trucking Index. Con-way ( CNW ) has helped lead the sector lower after providing disappointing fourth quarter earnings guidance.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.9 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets moved modestly higher on the day. While the German DAX Index rose by 0.3 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both ended the day up by 0.2 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries have shown a lack of direction after ending the previous session notably higher. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by less than a basis point at 2.841 percent.
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