U.S. Stocks See Further Upside After Early Advance

After moving mostly higher early in the session, stocks have seen further upside over the course of the trading day on Friday. The major averages are adding to the gains posted in the two previous sessions, with the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 reaching their best intraday levels in well over a month.

Currently, the major averages are off their highs of the session but still firmly positive. The Nasdaq is up 145.65 points or 1.2 percent at 12,159.12, the S&P 500 is up 35.02 points or 0.9 percent at 4,085.85 and the Dow is up 252.16 points or 0.8 percent at 33,111.19.

The continued strength on Wall Street comes following the release of a Commerce Department report showing an unexpected slowdown in the annual rate of core consumer price growth.

The report said core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, jumped 4.6 percent year-over-year in February.

Annual price growth remains elevated, but this represents a slowdown from the 4.7 percent year-over-year spike in January. Economists had expected the pace of growth to be unchanged.

Including food and energy prices, the annual rate of consumer price growth also slowed to 5.0 percent in February from 5.3 percent in January. The pace of overall growth was also expected to be unchanged.

The Commerce Department said consumer prices rose by 0.3 percent on a monthly basis in February following a 0.6 percent advance in January. Economists had expected prices to increase by 0.4 percent.

Core consumer prices also increased by 0.3 percent on a monthly basis in February after climbing by 0.5 percent in January. Core prices were expected to edge up by 0.2 percent.

With the inflation readings said to be preferred by the Federal Reserve, the data had led to some optimism the central bank will hold off on raising interest rates at its next meeting in early May.

The Fed signaled last week that it expects just one more rate increase this year, leaving traders looking for clues about the timing of the final rate hike.

Sector News

Airline stocks continue to turn in a strong performance in afternoon trading, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index climbing by 1.6 percent. The index is moving higher for the sixth consecutive session.

Significant strength also remains visible among networking stocks, as reflected by the 1.6 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Networking Index.

Computer hardware stocks have also shown a strong move to the upside on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index up by 1.5 percent.

Software, housing and biotechnology stocks are also seeing notable strength, while gold stocks have come under pressure amid a modest decrease by the price of the precious metal.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index jumped by 0.9 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose by 0.4 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.8 percent, the German DAX Index climbed by 0.7 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index edged up by 0.2 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have climbed firmly into positive territory over the course of the session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 4.4 basis points at 3.507 percent.

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