RTTNews - Stocks are seeing modest strength in early trading on Thursday, with the major averages just above the unchanged line after ending the previous session mixed. Buying interest has remained subdued, however, limiting the upside for the markets.

Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves, although some strength has emerged among gold, biotechnology, and chemical stocks. On the other hand, some semiconductor, defense, and telecom stocks are posting notable losses.

In earnings news, 3M (MMM) reported adjusted second-quarter net income of $1.20 per share, compared to $1.39 per share in the year ago quarter. Wall Street expected the firm to earn $0.94 per share for the quarter. Net sales also declined compared to the same period last year but also beat estimates.

Ford Motors (F) revealed second-quarter net income of $0.69 per share, although its adjusted results showed a loss of $0.21 per share. The loss was narrower than the loss of $0.63 per share in the year-ago quarter while also beating Wall Street expectations of a loss of $0.48 per share.

McDonald's (MCD), AT&T (T), Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) also bested estimates, although by more modest margins, while results from United Parcel Service (UPS) came in-line with expectations.

Later this morning, traders will turn to a report on the health of the housing market, with the National Association of Realtors scheduled to report figures on existing home sales for June shortly after the opening bell on Wall Street.

The annual rate of existing home sales is expected to pick up to 4.83 million for June after coming in at 4.77 million in May. The data is scheduled for release at 10:00 a.m. ET.

The major averages are currently clinging to modest gains, not far off their highs for the young session. The Dow is currently up 11.79 at 8,893.05, the Nasdaq is up 1.84 at 1,928.22 and the S&P 500 is up 1.53 at 955.60.

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