After an early move to the upside, stocks have fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Friday. While the tech-heavy Nasdaq has remained in positive territory, the Dow and the S&P 500 have bounced back and forth across the unchanged line.
Currently, the major averages are turning in a mixed performance. The Dow is down 38.40 points or 0.1 percent at 31,002.73, while the Nasdaq is up 90.58 points or 0.7 percent at 13,158.06 and the S&P 500 is up 10.83 points or 0.3 percent at 3,814.62.
The markets initially benefited from optimism that a Democrat-controlled government will lead to more fiscal stimulus and a better handling of the coronavirus vaccine rollout.
In a statement on Thursday, President Donald Trump finally acknowledged “a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th,” although he declined to mention President-elect Joe Biden by name.
Trump has repeatedly refused to accept the outcome of the election, spouting fraudulent claims of widespread voter fraud that inspired his supporters to assault the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday.
Traders seem hopeful for a return to normalcy, as Democrats will control both houses of congress and the White House but do not have the margin in the Senate to force through radical legislation.
The early buying interest has waned, however, as trades are also reacting to a closely watched Labor Department report showing an unexpected decrease in U.S. employment in the month of December.
The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment fell by 140,000 jobs in December after climbing by an upwardly revised 336,000 jobs in November.
The decline surprised economists, who had expected employment to increase by about 71,000 jobs compared to the addition of 245,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
Employment decreased for the first time since April as the recent surge in coronavirus cases led to a nosedive in employment in the leisure and hospitality sector, which lost 498,000 jobs.
Traders have recently been looking on the bright side of almost every piece of news and may see the weak jobs data as more ammunition for Democrats to pursue additional stimulus.
Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves in mid-day trading, although substantial weakness is visible among gold stocks.
The NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index has plunged by 4.8 percent, as the price of gold for February delivery is plummeting $54.90 to $1,858.70 an ounce.
Tobacco stocks have also shown a significant move to the downside on the day, with the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index slumping by 2.5 percent after ending the previous session at its best closing level in well over a year.
Housing and natural gas stocks are also seeing notable weakness in mid-day trading, while transportation stocks continue to turn in a strong performance.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index surged up by 2.4 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi skyrocketed by 4 percent.
The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index climbed by 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries are extending the notable decline seen over the past several sessions. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 3.9 basis points at 1.110 percent.
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