U.S. Stocks Lack Direction Ahead Of Key Inflation Data

Stocks are turning in a lackluster performance during trading on Thursday following the upward move seen over the two previous sessions. The major averages have spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

Currently, the major averages are narrowly mixed. While the Dow is up 46.38 points or 0.1 percent at 39,174.18, the Nasdaq is down 10.85 points or 0.1 percent at 17,794.30 and the S&P 500 is down 5.77 points or 0.1 percent at 5,472.13.

The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as traders seem reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the release of key inflation data on Friday.

The Commerce Department is due to release its report on personal income and spending in the month of May, which includes readings on inflation said to be preferred by the Federal Reserve.

The report is expected to show a modest slowdown in the annual rate of consumer price growth and could have a significant impact on the outlook for interest rates.

On the U.S. economic front, a report released by the Labor Department showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by more than expected in the week ended June 22nd.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims dropped to 233,000, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 239,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 236,000 from the 238,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department released a report showing new orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods unexpectedly crept higher in the month of May.

The report said durable goods orders inched up by 0.1 percent in May after rising by a downwardly revised 0.2 percent in April.

Economists had expected durable goods orders to slip by 0.1 percent compared to the 0.6 percent increase that had been reported for the previous month.

Excluding an increase orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders edged down by 0.1 percent in May after climbing by 0.4 percent in April. Ex-transportation orders were expected to rise by 0.2 percent.

Sector News

Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, contributing to the lackluster performance by the broader markets.

Gold stocks have shown a strong move to the upside, however, with the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index climbing by 1.6 percent. The strength in the sector comes amid an increase by the price of the precious metal.

Networking and software stocks are also seeing notable strength, while a steep drop by shares of Micron (MU) is weighing on the semiconductor sector.

Micron is down by 6.7 percent after the chipmaker reported better than expected fiscal third quarter results but provided guidance that disappointed investors.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index and China’s Shanghai Composite Index slid by 0.8 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index plunged by 2.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a mixed performance on the day. While the German DAX Index is up by 0.3 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.4 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.8 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved back to the upside following the weakness seen on Wednesday. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down y 2.8 basis points at 4.288 percent.

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