U.S. Stocks Holding On To Strong Gains In Afternoon Trading

Stocks moved sharply early in the session on Thursday and continue to see significant strength in afternoon trading. The Nasdaq has helped to lead the way higher, reflecting a substantial rebound by technology stocks.

The major averages have moved roughly sideways in recent trading, holding on to strong gains. The Nasdaq is up 263.59 points or 2.6 percent at 10,476.87, the S&P 500 is up 69.12 points or 1.8 percent at 3,852.34 and the Dow is up 370.44 points or 1.1 percent at 33,246.15.

The rally on Wall Street partly reflects bargain hunting, particularly among tech stocks, which moved sharply lower over the two previous sessions.

The standout gain by the Nasdaq comes after the tech-heavy index ended Wednesday’s trading at its lowest closing level in over two years.

Overall trading activity remains subdued amid the holidays, however, with below average volume potentially exaggerating the recent moves.

Following the long Christmas weekend, the markets are set for another break this weekend due to New Year’s Day.

In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits rose by slightly more than expected in the week ended December 24th.

The report said initial jobless claims crept up to 225,000, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 216,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 222,000.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average edged down to 221,000, a decrease of 250 from the previous week’s revised average of 221,250.

Sector News

Semiconductor stocks have shown a substantial rebound on the day, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index spiking by 3.5 percent after ending the previous session at its lowest closing level in well over a month.

Significant strength has also emerged among biotechnology stocks, as reflected by the 2.8 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index.

Computer hardware, networking and software stocks also continue to see considerable strength, contributing to the surge by the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

Airline, oil service and housing stocks have also shown strong moves to the upside, moving higher along with most of the other major sectors.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 0.9 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index jumped by 1.0 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries are regaining ground after trending lower in recent sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 5.9 basis points at 3.828 percent.

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