Stocks Remain Mixed As Traders Digest OPEC News, Economic Data - U.S. Commentary

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( - After moving in opposite directions early in the session, stocks continue to turn in a mixed performance in mid-day trading on Thursday. The Dow is hovering firmly in positive territory, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq has shown a notable decline.

Currently, the major averages remain on opposite sides of the unchanged line. While the Dow is up 76.31 points or 0.4 percent at 19,199.89, the Nasdaq is down 49.18 points or 0.9 percent at 5,274.50 and the S&P 500 is down 1.17 points or 0.1 percent at 2,197.64.

The mixed performance on Wall Street comes as traders continue to react to news OPEC plans to reduce oil production by about 1.2 million barrels to 32.5 million barrels a day.

Oil prices spiked higher in response to the news on Wednesday and are seeing further upside this morning. Crude for January delivery is jumping $2.08 to $51.52 a barrel after soaring $4.21 to $49.44 a barrel in the previous session.

Another batch of economic data was also released this morning, including a report from the Institute for Supply Management showing a faster rate of growth in manufacturing activity in the month of November.

The ISM said its purchasing managers index climbed to 53.2 in November from 51.9 in October, with a reading above 50 indicating growth in the manufacturing sector. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 52.3.

With the bigger than expected increase, the index reached its highest level since a matching reading in June. The index has not been higher since early 2015.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed that initial jobless claims climbed by much more than expected to reach a five-month high in the week ended November 26th.

The report said initial jobless claims rose to 268,000, an increase of 17,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 251,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 253,000.

Friday morning, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched monthly employment report for November.

Employment is expected to increase by 170,000 jobs in November after climbing by 161,000 jobs in October, while the unemployment rate is expected to hold at 4.9 percent.

Sector News

Semiconductor stocks have shown a significant move to the downside on the day, dragging the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index down by 3.9 percent. The index is pulling back further off the sixteen-year closing high it set last Friday.

Nvidia ( NVDA ), Applied Materials ( AMAT ), and Lam Research ( LRCX ) are turning in some of the semiconductor sector's worst performances.

The weakness among semiconductor stocks is weighing on the Nasdaq along with notable declines by software, electronic storage and internet stocks.

On the other hand, energy stocks are extending the rally seen in the previous session amid the continued increase by the price of crude oil.

The Philadelphia Oil Service Index has surged up by 3.4 percent, while the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index and the NYSE Arca Oil & Gas Index are both up by 2.2 percent.

Financial stocks are also adding to yesterday's gains, with the Dow Jones Banks Index jumping by 2.5 percent and the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index advancing by 2 percent.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index surged up by 1.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose by 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index slumped by 1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have fallen sharply, extending the pullback seen in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 9.1 basis points at 2.459 percent.

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This article appears in: News Headlines
Referenced Symbols: AMAT , LRCX , NVDA

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