RTTNews - Stocks are seeing significant strength in mid-morning trading on Friday, reflecting growing economic optimism. The move follows the recent release of a string of encouraging economic reports, although it has largely been limited due to the low volume typical of the summer season.

With no major economic news scheduled to be released, investors are focusing on earnings figures and some other corporate news to guide trading to close out a rather lackluster week.

In earnings news, Research in Motion Limited (RIMM) reported adjusted first quarter earnings of $564.4 million or $0.98 per share, beating analyst estimates of $0.94 per share. The BlackBerry maker also reported a 53 percent increase in sales.

Looking ahead, RIM said expects second quarter earnings of $0.94 to $1.03 per share on revenues of $3.45 to $3.7 billion. The consensus estimates call for earnings of $0.97 per share on revenues of $3.61 billion.

Also on the tech front, Apple's (AAPL) iPhone 3GS is being launched today. The anticipated success of the new product line and the return of Steve Jobs as CEO, set to take place later this month, may further bolster investor confidence.

Separately, CarMax (KMX) reported first-quarter net income of $0.13 per share, flat compared to the prior-year quarter. Wall Street analysts had expected the auto retailer to report earnings of $0.04 per share.

In recent trading, the major averages have pulled back well off their best levels of the day, although they currently remain firmly in positive territory. The Dow is currently up 32.88 at 8,588.48, the Nasdaq is up 25.05 at 1,832.77 and the S&P 500 is up 5.81 at 924.18.

Sector News

Most of the major sectors are moving higher in morning trading, contributing to the solid outing by the major averages.

Healthcare-related stocks are showing notable strength, extending their gains for a fourth day in a row. Significant strength is visible among health insurance stocks, with the Morgan Stanley Healthcare Payor Index up 3.6 percent.

Further, the NYSE Arca Pharmaceutical Index is also climbing, rising by 1.2 percent. With the upward move move, the index reached its best intraday level in over four months earlier in the session.

Technology stocks are also turning in strong performances, with the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware and the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index up by 2.7 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

Additionally, railroad, steel and gold stocks are also advancing by considerable margins, reflecting the day's broad based strength.

Stocks Driven By Analyst Comments

Shares of Carnival (CCL) are on the rise in morning trading after being upgraded by Barclays Capital to Equal Weight from Underweight. The stock has also benefited from an upgrade by Wachovia, which raised its rating on the stock to Outperform from market perform. Carnival is up by 6.8 percent, moving further off the two and a half month low set earlier this week.

Colfax (CFX) is also climbing following a ratings boost from Janney Montgomery Scott, which raised its rating to Buy from Neutral. Shares of the pump and valve maker are up by 9 percent, bouncing off the one-month closing low set in the previous session.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia Pacific region ended Friday's session showing solid gains. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed up 0.9 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index finished up 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have turned mixed over the course of the trading day. While the German DAX Index is down 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index are up 0.7 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

In the bond markets, treasuries are showing a lack of direction. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note is currently trading at 3.83 percent, just below the unchanged line.

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