RTTNews - With traders reacting positively to the latest batch of earnings and economic news, stocks are seeing moderate strength in late morning trading on Thursday. The major averages are all firmly in positive territory, although they have pulled back off their best levels of the day.

The markets have benefited from the release of a report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve showing an unexpected increase in manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region in the month of August. The Philly Fed Index turned positive for the first time since September of 2008.

Banking stocks are turning in some of the market's best performances, as the economic data has renewed recent optimism about a second half recovery. The S&P Banks Index is currently up 3 percent, adding to the more modest gains posted in the two previous sessions.

Most of the other major sectors have also moved higher over the course of the morning, reflecting broad based buying interest. Commercial real estate, airline, railroad, and health insurance stocks are posting significant gains.

While the major averages have moved well off their highs for the session, they are currently holding onto notable gains. The Dow is currently up 34.99 at 9,314.15, the Nasdaq is up 12.69 at 1,981.93 and the S&P 500 is up 7.67 at 1,004.13.

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