RTTNews - After seeing a moderate advance early in the session, stocks have shed their early gains and turned mostly negative in mid-afternoon trading on Friday. While the Nasdaq is holding above the flat line due to the strength seen in tech stocks, the Dow and the S&P 500 have slipped into the red.
The lack of significant movement on the day has come amid low trading volume characteristic of the summer season. Additionally, traders may be on the sidelines ahead of the results of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting, along with key housing, employment and gross domestic product figures set to be revealed next week.
In recent trading, the Dow and the S&P 500 have pulled off of their worst levels of the day while remaining negative, while the Nasdaq is holding on to moderate gains. The Dow is currently down 44.51 at 8,511.09, and the S&P 500 is down 0.56 at 917.81, whereas the Nasdaq is up 13.20 at 1,820.92.
The Dow components are turning in a mixed performance in mid-afternoon trading, contributing to the lackluster performance by the blue chip index.
One of the day's notable pullbacks is visible in shares of Caterpillar (CAT), which have dropped by 1.3 percent. The day's decline has positioned the stock for its lowest closing level in nearly two months.
Weakness has also emerged in shares of Kraft Foods (KFT) and Procter & Gamble (PG), with the stocks slipping by 1.7 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. With the drop, the stocks are giving back some of the gains posted in the previous session.
While Verizon (VZ) and Chevron (CVX) are also pulling back, shares of Alcoa (AA) and Microsoft (MSFT) are advancing by comparable margins. Notably, Microsoft is up by 2.6 percent, rising to its best intra-day price in nearly eight months.
Further reflecting the strength in tech stocks is Hewlett Packard (HPQ), which is up by 2 percent on the session. With today's jump, shares of the diversified tech product giant rose to their best intra-day level in well over five months earlier.
Additionally, shares of American Express (AXP) and Merck (MRK) are also on the rise, climbing by 1.3 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively. The gains have helped the stocks to offset some of their recent losses.
Natural gas stocks have come under pressure over the course of the trading day, dragging the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index down 2.7 percent. The weakness in the sector comes amid a decrease by the price of natural gas.
Further, telecommunication and chemical stocks are also retreating, with the NYSE Arca Telecommunications Sector Index and the S&P Chemical Index falling by 1.5 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. The pullback has the indices poised to close at fresh multi-week lows.
Additional weakness is also seen in healthcare provider, oil service and utility stocks.
Meanwhile, considerable strength has continued among gold stocks with the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index up by 2.6 percent. The index has moved away from roughly a six week low reached in the previous session.
Healthcare-related stocks are also climbing, building on their gains for the fourth consecutive session. Significant strength remains visible among health insurance stocks, with the Morgan Stanley Healthcare Payor Index up 2.1 percent.
Computer hardware stocks are seeing notable gains, with the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index up by 2 percent on the day, taking back some of its recent losses. Electronic storage, networking and software stocks are also advancing, reflecting the day's strength in the tech segment.
In Focus: Research In Motion, Apple, Stanford Arrested
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.
In other news, Texas billionaire Sir Allen Stanford, who has been accused of perpetrating an alleged fraud worth $8 billion, was arrested by FBI agents in Virginia late on Thursday.
U.S. authorities had issued an arrest warrant for Stanford over allegations of massive fraud involving certificates of deposits issued by his Antigua-based bank, reports quoting his lawyer said.
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.
The major European markets also finished the day higher. The French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index closed up 0.9 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, while the German DAX Index closed just above the unchanged mark.
In the bond markets, treasuries are continuing their upward move after a shaky start. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note is currently trading at 3.787 percent, a drop of 4.7 basis points on the day.
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