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U.S. Stocks Turning In Lackluster Performance As Traders Digest Data Onslaught

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February 15 2024 11:20AM

With traders digesting a slew of U.S. economic data, stocks are turning in a lackluster performance during trading on Thursday. The major averages have turned mixed on the day following the significant rebound seen in the previous session.

Currently, the Dow (DOWI:DJI) is up 197.38 points or 0.5 percent at 38,621.65 and the S&P 500 (SPI:SP500) is up 10.75 points or 0.2 percent at 5,011.37, but the Nasdaq (NASDAQI:COMP) is down 28.71 points or 0.2 percent at 15,830.44.

The choppy trading on Wall Street comes following an avalanche of data that offered a mixed picture of the economy.

Before the start of trading, the Commerce Department released a report showing retail sales fell by much more than expected in the month of January.

The Commerce Department said retail sales slid by 0.8 percent in January after climbing by a downwardly revised 0.4 percent in December.

Economists had expected retail sales to edge down by 0.1 percent compared to the 0.6 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

Excluding sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales fell by 0.6 percent in January after rising by 0.4 percent in December. Ex-auto sales were expected to rise by 0.2 percent.

The Federal Reserve also released a report showing industrial production in the U.S. unexpectedly edged slightly lower in the month of January.

The Fed said industrial production slipped by 0.1 percent in January compared to economist estimates for a 0.3 percent increase.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department released a separate report showing an unexpected decline in first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended February 10th.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 212,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 220,000.

Economists had expected initial jobless claims to inch up to 220,000 from the 218,000 originally reported for the previous week.

The Labor Department also released a separate report this morning showing an unexpected increase U.S. import prices in the month of January.

“The data is complicated – a true dichotomy of weakening retail sales yet a strong labor market: this underscore’s the Feds concern of not moving too quickly,” said Gina Bolvin, President of Bolvin Wealth Management Group. “The market will be volatile as it digests the data and scrutinizes every data point.”

Sector News

While many of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, gold stocks are seeing considerable strength amid a modest increase by the price of the precious metal.

With gold for April delivery rising $7 to $2,011.30 an ounce, the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index has surged by 2.9 percent.

Natural gas stocks are also seeing substantial strength despite a decrease by the price of the commodity, with the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index jumping by 2.6 percent.

Significant strength is also visible among computer hardware stocks, as reflected by the 2.0 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index.

Oil service, oil producer banking and commercial real estate stocks are also seeing notable strength, while software stocks have moved to the downside.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index shot up by 1.2 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose by 0.4 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index has advanced by 0.8 percent, the German DAX Index is up by 0.5 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.4 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have pulled back off their highs but remain in positive territory. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 2.1 basis points at 4.246 percent.