U.S. Stocks Continue To Experience Choppy Trading

After showing a lack of direction early in the session, stocks continue to turn in a lackluster performance in afternoon trading on Friday. The major averages have spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

Currently, the major averages are posting modest losses. The Dow is down 38.69 points or 0.1 percent at 33,747.93, the Nasdaq is down 9.16 points or 0.1 percent at 12,050.40 and the S&P 500 is down 3.95 points or 0.1 percent at 4,125.84.

The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as traders seem reluctant to make significant moves as they look for additional clarity about the outlook for the markets following the volatility seen over the past few sessions.

Traders may also be looking ahead to several key economic reports due be released next week, including the Commerce Department’s report on personal income and spending.

The report includes a reading on inflation said to be preferred by the Federal Reserve and could impact the outlook for interest rates ahead of the next Fed meeting the following week.

Earnings news is also likely to remain in focus next week, with Coca-Cola (KO), 3M (MMM), General Electric (GE), McDonald’s (MCD), Alphabet (GOOGL), Amazon (AMZN), Intel (INTC), and Exxon Mobil (XOM) among a slew of big-name companies due to report their quarterly results.

Amid a relatively quiet day on the economic front, S&P Global released data indicating a faster rise in business activity at U.S.-based firms on the month of April.

The headline S&P Global Flash U.S. PMI Composite Output Index climbed to 53.5 in April from 52.3 in March, signaling the quickest upturn in business activity since May 2022. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 52.8.

The report also said the Flash U.S. Services Business Activity also rose to a twelve-month high of 53.7 in April from 52.6 in March, while the Flash U.S. Manufacturing PMI crept up to 50.4 from 49.2, signaling the first improvement in operating conditions at goods producers in six months.

Sector News

Most of the major sectors continue to show only modest moves in afternoon trading, contributing to the lackluster performance by the broader markets.

Steel stocks continue to see substantial weakness, however, with the NYSE Arca Steel Index plunging by 3.0 percent.

Significant weakness has also emerged among oil service stocks, as reflected by the 2.1 percent slump by the Philadelphia Oil Service Index. The sell-off by oil service stocks comes despite a modest increase by the price of crude oil.

Banking, gold and semiconductor stocks are also seeing notable weakness on the day, while retail and pharmaceutical stocks have shown strong moves to the upside.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slipped by 0.3 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index plunged by 2.0 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both rose by 0.5 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have shown a lack of direction over the course of the session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by less than basis point at 3.553 percent.

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