(RTTNews) - Stocks gave back some ground after reaching new record intraday highs early in the session but remain mostly positive in mid-day trading on Thursday. The major averages are adding to the strong gains posted last year.
Currently, the major averages are hovering firmly in positive territory. The Dow is up 185.83 points or 0.7 percent at 28,724.27, the Nasdaq is up 57.62 points or 0.6 percent at 9,030.22 and the S&P 500 is up 9.88 points or 0.3 percent at 3,240.66.
The early strength on Wall Street came as stocks continued to ride the upward momentum that helped the major averages continually reach new record highs in the latter part of 2019.
Optimism about the potential impact of a phase one U.S.-China trade deal generated continued buying interest, with President Donald Trump saying the deal is due to be signed during a White House ceremony on January 15th.
Trump said in a post on Twitter on Tuesday that he would travel to Beijing at a later date to begin talks on phase two of a trade agreement.
Recent reports have indicated Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Beijing's top trade negotiator, will be on hand to sign the phase one deal.
The U.S. economy has held up relatively well in the face of the U.S.-China trade war, and the signing of the phase one deal could lift some of the uncertainty hanging over some industries.
However, traders continue to wait for more details about the deal and remain wary as significant tariffs will remain in place even after the agreement is signed.
In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing initial jobless claims unexpectedly edged slightly lower from an upwardly revised level in the week ended December 28th.
The report said initial jobless claims slipped to 222,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised level of 224,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 225,000 from the 222,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average crept up to its highest level since January of 2018.
Computer hardware stocks are turning in some of the market's best performances in mid-day trading, with the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index climbing by 1.5 percent to a record intraday high.
Semiconductor and software stocks are also seeing considerable strength on the day, driving the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index and the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index up by 1.3 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.
On the other hand, natural gas stocks have moved sharply lower over the course of the session, dragging the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index down by 1.9 percent. A decrease by the price of natural gas is weighing on the sector.
Utilities, commercial real estate and tobacco stocks have also come under pressure on the day, partly offsetting the strength seen in the aforementioned sectors.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Thursday, with the Japanese markets still closed for New Year's. China's Shanghai Composite Index jumped by 1.2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged up by 1.3 percent.
The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.8 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index shot up by 1 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries have pulled back off their best levels but remain firmly positive. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 3.7 basis points at 1.882 percent.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.