U.S. Stocks Turning In Mixed Performance In Afternoon Trading


The major U.S. stock indexes are turning in a mixed performance in afternoon trading on Friday, with the Dow moving to the upside but the tech-heavy Nasdaq moving notably lower.

The Dow is currently just off its highs of the session, up 138.59 points or 0.4 percent at 33,838.47, while the Nasdaq is down 81.10 points or 0.7 percent at 11,708.47.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 has spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line and is currently down just 1.95 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 4,079.55.

The choppy trading on Wall Street partly reflects lingering uncertainty about the outlook for interest rates ahead of next week’s closely watched inflation data.

Traders are likely to keep a close eye on the data for clues about whether Federal Reserve will need to raise rates higher than currently anticipated in order to bring down prices.

The mixed performance also came as traders react to mixed February consumer sentiment data released by the University of Michigan this morning.

While consumer sentiment saw a continued improvement in February, the report also showed a rebound in near-term inflation expectations.

The report showed the consumer sentiment index rose to 66.4 in February from 64.9 in January. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 65.0.

The consumer sentiment index increased for the third straight month, reaching its highest level since hitting 67.2 in January 2022.

Meanwhile, one-year inflation expectations climbed to 4.2 percent in February from 3.9 percent in January, with expectations rebounding after falling for three straight months.

The lackluster performance on Wall Street also reflects a mixed reaction to the latest batch of corporate earnings news.

Shares of Lyft (LYFT) have plummeted after the ride-sharing company reported an unexpected fourth quarter loss and provided disappointing revenue guidance for the current quarter.

Travel company Expedia (EXPE) has also moved to the downside after reporting fourth quarter results that missed analyst estimates on both the top and bottom lines.

At the same time, shares of Yelp (YELP) have moved sharply higher after the consumer review platform reported fourth quarter results roughly in line with estimates and provided upbeat guidance for 2023.

Sector News

Energy stocks continue to see substantial strength in afternoon trading, benefiting from a sharp increase by the price of crude oil.

With crude for March delivery jumping $1.46 to $79.52 a barrel, the NYSE Arca Oil Index is up by 3.9 percent and the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is up by 2.6 percent.

A surge by the price of natural gas is also contributing to significant strength among natural gas stocks, driving the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index up by 2.3 percent.

Computer hardware, utilities and telecom stocks have also shown strong moves to the upside over the course of the session.

On the other hand, considerable weakness remains visible among airline stocks, as reflected by the 2.0 percent slump by the NYSE Arca Airline Index. The index has tumbled to its lowest intraday level in a month.

Semiconductor stocks also continue to see notable weakness on the day, dragging the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index down by 1.9 percent.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.3 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.3 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index plunged by 2.0 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index tumbled by 1.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index slumped by 0.8 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.4 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are extending the notable downturn seen over the course of the previous session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 4.7 basis points at 3.730 percent.

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