Stocks Posting Strong Gains In Mid-Day Trading - U.S. Commentary

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( - Stocks continue to see considerable strength in mid-day trading on Wednesday after an initial move to the upside. The major averages remain firmly positive territory following the mixed performance seen in the previous session.

Currently, the major averages are just off their highs of the session. The Dow is up 368.82 points or 1.5 percent at 24,948.78, the Nasdaq is up 78.56 points or 1.1 percent at 7,106.85 and the S&P 500 is up 24.63 points or 0.9 percent at 2,664.63.

The early strength on Wall Street partly reflected a positive reaction to earnings news from big-name companies like Boeing (BA) and Apple ( AAPL ).

Shares of Boeing are significantly higher after the aerospace giant reported better than expected fourth quarter results and provided upbeat guidance for full-year 2019.

Tech giant Apple has also shown a strong move to the upside after reporting fiscal first quarter results that exceeded analyst estimates, including substantial growth in its services business.

Traders have also reacted positively to comments from Apple CEO Tim Cook, who expressed optimism about U.S.-China trade talks.

On the U.S. economic front, payroll processor ADP released a report showing the pace of private sector job growth slowed in January but still far exceeded analyst estimates.

ADP said private sector employment jumped by 213,000 jobs in January after soaring by a downwardly revised 263,000 jobs in December.

Economists had expected employment to increase by about 178,000 jobs compared to the spike of 271,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

"The job market weathered the government shutdown well," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics.

"Despite the severe disruptions, businesses continued to add aggressively to their payrolls," he added. "As long as businesses hire strongly the economic expansion will continue on."

Meanwhile, a separate report from the National Association of Realtors unexpectedly showed a continued decrease in U.S. pending home sales in the month of December.

NAR said its pending home sales index tumbled by 2.2 percent to 99.0 in December after falling by 0.9 percent to a downwardly revised 101.2 in November. Economists had expected the index to climb by 0.5 percent.

A pending home sale is one in which a contract was signed but not yet closed. Normally, it takes four to six weeks to close a contracted sale.

Sector News

Steel stocks continue to see substantial strength amid optimism about U.S.-China trade talks, resulting in a 3.8 percent spike by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. The index has reached its best intraday level in nearly two months.

Considerable strength has also emerged among tobacco stocks, as reflected by the 3.1 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index.

Software stocks have shown also shown a strong move to the upside ahead of the release of industry giant Microsoft's (MSFT) quarterly results after the close of trading.

Energy, retail and semiconductor stocks are also seeing notable strength in mid-day trading, while some weakness remains visible among networking stocks.

Juniper Networks (JNPR) is posting a steep loss after reporting weaker than expected fourth quarter revenue and forecasting lower first quarter sales due to continued weakness with cloud customers.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Wednesday. Japan'sNikkei 225 Index fell by 0.5 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose by 0.4 percent.

The major European markets also ended the day mixed. While the German DAX Index fell by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 1 percent and the U.K.'sFTSE 100 Index surged up by 1.6 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are seeing modest weakness after moving higher over the two previous sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 2.1 basis points at 2.733 percent.

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