RTTNews - After ending the previous session sharply higher, stocks have shown a lack of direction over the course of morning trading on Thursday. The major averages have had difficulty sustaining any significant moves, bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

The choppy trading comes even as traders digest some disappointing economic data, including a report from the Commerce Department showing an unexpected drop in retail sales in July. A separate report from the Labor Department showed an unexpected increase in weekly jobless claims.

Nonetheless, gold stocks are seeing significant strength, moving higher along with the price of the precious metal. With gold for December delivery currently up $6 at $958.50 an ounce, the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index is up 3.3 percent.

Significant strength is also visible in the networking, banking, and oil service sectors, with a notable increase by the price of oil contributing to the gains by oil service stocks. On the other hand, some retail, housing and drug stocks are posting notable losses.

The major averages have moved to the downside in recent trading, although they are currently holding onto modest gains. The Dow is currently up 8.54 at 9,370.15, the Nasdaq is up 4.73 at 2,003.45 and the S&P 500 is up 2.79 at 1,008.60.

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