U.S. Stocks Continue To Recover From Recent Weakness

Stocks have moved mostly higher in morning trading on Friday, extending the advance seen over the course of the previous session. The major averages have all moved to the upside, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading the way.

Currently, the major averages are just off their highs of the session. While the Nasdaq is up 134.68 points or 1.2 percent at 11,597.66, the S&P 500 is up 33.36 points or 0.8 percent at 4,014.71 and the Dow is up 118.63 points or 0.4 percent at 33,122.20.

The strength on Wall Street comes as traders continue to look to pick up stocks at relatively reduced levels following recent weakness, as the gains posted by the Nasdaq and S&P 500 on Thursday came after they hit their lowest intraday levels in over a month.

A pullback by treasury yields has also generated some buying interest, with the yield on the benchmark ten-year note giving back ground after jumping to a three-month closing high above 4.0 percent.

Traders have also reacted positively to a report from the Institute for Supply Management showing a very slight slowdown in the pace of growth in U.S. service sector activity in the month of February.

The ISM said its services PMI edged down to 55.1 in February from 55.2 in January, although a reading above 50 still indicates growth in the sector. Economists had expected the index to slip to 54.5.

Andrew Hunter, Deputy Chief US Economist at Capital Economics, said the dip by the index “suggests activity continues to expand at a reasonably healthy pace, but provides further reason to doubt the idea that there has been a resurgence in growth since the start of the year.”

The report also showed the prices index fell to 65.6 in February from 67.8 in January, pointing to a slowdown in the pace of price growth.

“Overall, there isn’t much in the ISM services report to suggest the Fed needs to raise rates significantly higher than previously planned,” said Hunter.

Software stocks are extending the strong upward move seen in the previous session, driving the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index up by 1.3 percent.

Significant strength is also visible among gold stocks, as reflected by the 1.2 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index.

The strength in the gold sector comes amid an increase by the price of the precious metal, with gold for April delivery climbing $7.40 to $1,847.90 an ounce.

Tobacco, commercial real estate and airline stocks are also seeing notable strength, moving higher along with most of the other major sectors.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index surged by 1.6 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose by 0.5 percent.

Most European stocks have also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index is up by 1.5 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.9 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has bucked the uptrend and edged down by 0.1 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are regaining ground after moving sharply lower over the two previous sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 6.6 basis points at 4.007 percent.

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