(RTTNews.com) - After initially showing a lack of direction, stocks have moved modestly higher over the course of the trading session on Wednesday. The major averages are extending the strong upward move seen over the two previous sessions.
Currently, the major averages are all in positive territory, although the Dow is up just 7.56 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 24,794.19. The Nasdaq is up 22.27 points or 0.3 percent at 7,303.37 and the S&P 500 is up 6.28 points or 0.2 percent at 2,712.67.
The modest strength that has emerged on Wall Street partly reflects a positive reaction to upbeat earnings news from some big-name companies.
Morgan Stanley (MS), United Continental (UAL) and CSX Corp. (CSX) have also moved higher after reporting better than expected quarterly earnings.
However, a steep drop by IBM Corp. (IBM) is limiting the upside for the markets, with the tech giant slumping by 7.6 percent after ending the previous session at its best closing level in over two months.
The pullback by IBM comes after the company reported first quarter results that exceeded analyst estimates but provided disappointing full-year earnings guidance.
Traders also seem reluctant to make more significant moves ahead of the release of the Federal Reserve's Beige Book this afternoon.
The Beige Book, a compilation of anecdotal evidence on economic conditions in the twelve Fed districts, may shed some additional light on the outlook for interest rates.
Additionally, American Express (AXP), Alcoa ( AA ), and Pier 1 Imports (PIR) are among the companies due to report their quarterly results after the close of trading.
Steel stocks continue to see substantial strength in mid-day trading, with the NYSE Arca Steel Index surging up by 4.2 percent. With the jump, the index has reached its best intraday level in a month.
Among steel stocks, Steel Dynamics (STLD) is posting a notable gain ahead of the release of its first quarter results after the close of today's trading.
Significant strength is also visible among energy stocks, which are moving higher along with the price of crude oil. Crude for May delivery is spiking $1.48 to $68 a barrel.
Reflecting the strength in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is up by 3 percent, the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index is up by 2.3 percent and the NYSE Arca Oil Index is up by 1.7 percent.
Gold, transportation, and retail stocks are also seeing notable strength on the day, while weakness is visible among tobacco and semiconductor stocks.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index shot up by 1.4 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced by 0.7 percent.
The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index closed just above the unchanged line, the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.5 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 1.3 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries have pulled back following the modest upward move seen in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 3.5 basis points at 2.849 percent.
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