After showing a lack of direction earlier in the session, stocks have moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Wednesday. The major averages have climbed more firmly into positive territory after spending the morning bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.
Currently, the major averages are just off their highs of the session. The Dow is up 204.85 points or 0.6 percent at 34,782.42, the Nasdaq is up 59.46 points or 0.4 percent at 15,097.21 and the S&P 500 is up 29.73 points or 0.7 percent at 4,472.78.
The strength that has emerged on Wall Street may partly reflect bargain hunting following the downward trend seen over the past several sessions.
The Dow ended the previous session at its lowest closing level in almost two months, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq closed lower for four straight session.
Traders are also digesting the latest batch of data, including a report from the Fed showing industrial production in the U.S. increased by slightly less than expected in the month of August.
The report said industrial production rose by 0.4 percent in August after climbing by a downwardly revised 0.8 percent in July.
Economists had expected industrial production to increase by 0.5 percent compared to the 0.9 percent advance originally reported for the previous month.
The Fed noted late-month shutdowns related to Hurricane Ida held down the gain in industrial production by an estimated 0.3 percentage points.
A separate report from the Labor Department unexpectedly showed U.S. import prices decreased for the first time since October of 2020 in the month of August.
The Labor Department said import prices fell by 0.3 percent in August after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.4 percent in July.
The drop surprised economists, who had expected import prices to rise by 0.3 percent, matching the increase originally reported for the previous month.
Meanwhile, the report said export prices increased by 0.4 percent in August after jumping by a downwardly revised 1.1 percent in July.
Economists had expected export prices to advance by 0.5 percent compared to the 1.3 percent surge originally reported for the previous month.
Energy stocks continue to see substantial strength on the day, benefiting from a sharp increase by the price of crude oil. Crude for October delivery is spiking $2.18 to $72.64 a barrel after data showed a bigger than expected weekly decrease in crude oil inventories.
Reflecting the strength in the energy sector, the NYSE Arca Oil Index is up by 3.6 percent, the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index is up by 3.2 percent and the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is up by 3 percent.
Significant strength also remains visible among steel stocks, as reflected by the 2.1 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. The index is bouncing off its lowest closing level in almost two months.
Banking stocks have also shown a strong move to the upside over the course of the session, driving the KBW Bank Index up by 1.8 percent.
Biotechnology, tobacco and software stocks are also seeing notable strength in afternoon trading, moving higher along with most of the other major sectors.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.5 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index edged down by 0.2 percent.
The major European markets also moved to the downside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index slumped by 1 percent, the German DAX Index slid by 0.7 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index dipped by 0.3 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries have given back ground after moving notably higher in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 3.7 basis points at 1.314 percent.
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