With traders reluctant to make any significant moves ahead of the announcement of the results of the government's stress test for the financial system, stocks have shown a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Thursday.
The choppy trading also comes as traders digest another slew of earnings news as well was some disappointing economic data.
On the corporate front, eBay (EBAY) is showing some notable strength after the company reported better than expected first quarter earnings. The online auctioneer reported adjusted first quarter earnings of $0.39 per share compared to analyst estimates of $0.34 per share.
Meanwhile, UPS (UPS) is under pressure after reporting adjusted first quarter earnings of $0.52 per share, down from $0.87 per share last year and $0.04 below analyst estimates. Revenue also dropped, falling nearly 14 percent to $10.94 billion. That also failed to meet analysts' target.
In economic news, a report released by the Labor Department showed that first-time claims for unemployment benefits climbed roughly in line with economist estimates in the week ended April 18th. Jobless claims rose to 640,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 613,000.
At the same time, the Labor Department said that continuing claims in the week ended April 11th rose to another new record high of 6.14 million from the preceding week's revised level of 6.04 million.
Additionally, the National Association of Realtors released its report on existing home sales in the month of March, showing that the annual rate of sales fell 3.0 percent to 4.57 million. Economists had expected existing home sales to slip to a 4.65 million unit rate.
While sales fell by more than expected, Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, suggested that the market appears to be stabilizing with modest monthly ups and downs. Yum added that first-time buyers are driving the market.
In other news, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo unveiled information Thursday, showing that the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department put significant pressure on Bank of America to go through with its merger with Merrill Lynch.
The major averages are currently turning in a mixed performance, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq posting a moderate loss. While the Nasdaq is currently down 7.91 at 1,638.21, the Dow is up 4.38 at 7,890.95 and the S&P 500 is up 0.22 at 843.77.
While the Dow components are turning in a roughly mixed performance, contributing to the lack of direction by the blue chip index, some stocks within the Dow are showing notable declines.
Home Depot (HD) is showing a notable decline, with the home improvement retailer currently down 1.8 percent. With the loss, Home Depot is pulling back off the nearly seven-month closing high it set in the previous session.
General Motors (GM), Citigroup (C), and DuPont (DD) are also posting considerable losses on the day. General Motors and Citigroup are down 4.1 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively, while Dupont is posting a 2 percent loss.
At the other end of the spectrum, American Express (AXP) is turning in one of the Dow's best performances of the session, climbing 5 percent. The gain by AmEx comes ahead of the release of its first quarter results after the close of trading.
Bank of America, Chevron (CVX), and United Technologies (UTC) are also posting notable gains. While Bank of America is currently up 4.7 percent, Chevron and United Technologies are advancing 2.4 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.
With the uncertainty in the broader markets, many of the major sectors are showing considerable moves to both sides of the unchanged line.
One of the biggest movers is the railroad sector, which is showing considerable strength following the release of better-than-expected quarterly results from Union Pacific (UNP). Union Pacific is currently up 3.5 percent after it reaching its best intraday level in over three months.
Gold, oil, and natural gas stocks are also posting notable gains. The strength in the gold and oil stocks comes as investors respond to increases in the prices of both commodities.
Meanwhile, electronic storage, healthcare provider and health insurance are showing some of the day's widest losses. The Amex Disk Drive Index is down 3.1 percent, while the Morgan Stanley Healthcare Provider and Healthcare Payor Indices are both down 2.4 percent.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region closed mostly higher on Thursday after ending the previous session mixed. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index showed a strong upward move, closing up 1.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets closed below the unchanged line after some earlier uncertainty. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index finished the session down 0.3 percent, while the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index fell 1.2 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries are hovering above the unchanged line after seeing substantial uncertainty earlier in the session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark 10-year note is down 2.6 basis points at 2.938 percent.
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