U.S. Stocks Climb Off Worst Levels But Remain Modestly Lower

Stocks came under pressure in early trading on Friday but have regained some ground over the course of the morning. The major averages have climbed well off their lows of the session but remain in negative territory.

Currently, the major averages are posting modest losses. The Dow is down 64.07 points or 0.2 percent at 28,326.11, the Nasdaq is down 52.57 points or 0.4 percent at 11,838.36 and the S&P 500 is down 5.49 points or 0.2 percent at 3,504.96.

The early weakness on Wall Street was partly due to profit taking following the strong upward move seen over the past few sessions.

Lingering uncertainty about the outcome of the presidential election also weighed on the markets as several key states continue to country votes.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden now leads in Pennsylvania and Georgia, according to the latest numbers, suggesting the former Vice President is on track to exceed the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the White House.

However, Trump has claimed the increase in votes for Biden in a number of key states is proof of widespread voter fraud and pledged to take legal challenges to the results all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The early selling pressure was partly offset by a closely watched report from the Labor Department showing stronger than expected job growth in the month of October

The report said non-farm payroll employment jumped by 638,000 jobs in October after surging up by a revised 672,000 jobs in September.

Economists had expected employment to increase by 600,000 jobs compared to the addition of 661,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

The Labor Department also said the unemployment rate dropped to 6.9 percent in October from 7.9 percent in September. The unemployment rate was expected to slip to 7.7 percent.

“While the drop in unemployment was again mainly driven by temporarily laid-off workers returning to their old jobs, the number of permanent job losers also fell back slightly,” said Andrew Hunter, Senior U.S. Economist at Capital Economics.

He added, “That could be a crucial sign that the longer-term damage from the pandemic will not prove as severe as many had feared.”

Despite the pullback by the broader markets, most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves in morning trading.

Biotechnology stocks have shown a notable move to the downside, however, with the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index falling by 1.3 percent.

On the other hand, steel stocks are adding to yesterday’s strong gains, driving the NYSE Arca Steel Index up by 2.1 percent to its best intraday level in over eight months.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.9 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed by 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have turned mixed on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has risen by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.3 percent and the German DAX Index is down by 0.5 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have come under pressure after ending the previous session little changed. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 5.6 basis points at 0.832 percent.

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