Stocks have shown a lack of direction over the course of morning trading on Friday, with the major averages bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line after ending the previous session firmly in negative territory.
Currently, the major averages are narrowly mixed. While the Nasdaq is down 14.63 points or 0.1 percent at 12,044.92, the S&P 500 is up 1.22 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 4,131.01 and the Dow is up 34.72 points or 0.1 percent at 33,821.34.
The uptick by the Dow partly reflects a notable advance by shares of Procter & Gamble (PG), with the consumer products giant surging by 3.4 percent.
Procter & Gamble is rallying after reporting better than expected fiscal third quarter results and raising its full-year sales guidance on higher prices.
Meanwhile, the lackluster performance by the broader markets comes as traders seem reluctant to make significant moves as they look for additional clarity about the outlook for the markets following the volatility seen over the past few sessions.
Traders may also be looking ahead to several key economic reports due be released next week, including the Commerce Department’s report on personal income and spending.
The report includes a reading on inflation said to be preferred by the Federal Reserve and could impact the outlook for interest rates ahead of the next Fed meeting the following week.
Amid a relatively quiet day on the economic front, S&P Global released data indicating a faster rise in business activity at U.S.-based firms on the month of April.
The headline S&P Global Flash U.S. PMI Composite Output Index climbed to 53.5 in April from 52.3 in March, signaling the quickest upturn in business activity since May 2022. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 52.8.
The report also said the Flash U.S. Services Business Activity also rose to a twelve-month high of 53.7 in April from 52.6 in March, while the Flash U.S. Manufacturing PMI crept up to 50.4 from 49.2, signaling the first improvement in operating conditions at goods producers in six months.
Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, contributing to the lackluster performance by the broader markets.
Steel stocks have shown a significant move to the downside, however, with the NYSE Arca Steel Index tumbling by 2.6 percent.
Gold and banking stocks are also seeing notable weakness in morning trading, while pharmaceutical and retail stocks have shown strong moves to the upside.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slipped by 0.3 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index plunged by 2.0 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets have moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index is up by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.3 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.1 percent
In the bond market, treasuries have come under pressure over the course of the morning after seeing early strength. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 1.7 basis points at 3.562 percent after hitting a low of 3.502 percent.
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