U.S. Stocks Fluctuate But Remain Mostly Positive

Stocks have fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Friday but largely maintained a positive bias. After briefly turning negative in late-morning trading, the major averages have all moved back to the upside.

Currently, the major averages are in positive territory. The Dow is up 123.17 points or 0.3 percent at 35,877.86, the Nasdaq is up 70.90 points or 0.5 percent at 15,588.27 and the S&P 500 is up 30.88 points or 0.7 percent at 4,698.33.

The strength on Wall Street comes even after the Labor Department released a report showing U.S. consumer prices surged at the fastest annual rate of in nearly 40 years in November.

The report showed the annual rate of growth in consumer prices accelerated to 6.8 percent in November from 6.2 percent in October, reflecting the biggest jump since June of 1982.

Core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, were up by 4.9 percent compared to the same month a year ago, showing the biggest annual increase since June of 1991.

The faster annual growth came as consumer prices climbed by 0.8 percent in November following a 0.9 percent advance in October. Economists had expected consumer prices to increase by 0.7 percent.

Core consumer prices rose by 0.5 percent in November after climbing by 0.6 percent in October. The increase in core prices matched economist estimates.

While the elevated rate of inflation may lead the Federal Reserve to accelerate the pace of tapering its asset purchases next week, traders seemed relieved that the price growth was not even faster.

A separate report from the University of Michigan showed consumer sentiment in the U.S. unexpectedly improved in early December.

The report said the consumer sentiment index climbed to 70.4 in December after dropping to a ten-year low of 67.4 in November. The rebound surprised economists, who had expected the index to edge down to 67.1.

Sector News

Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, although significant strength remains visible among software stocks. Reflecting the strength in the sector, the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index has surged up by 2 percent.

Oracle (ORCL) is leading the sector higher, soaring by 16.1 percent after the business software giant reported better than expected fiscal second quarter results and announced a $10 billion increase in its share repurchase program.

Notable strength has also emerged among networking stocks, with the NYSE Arca Networking Index climbing by 1 percent to a new record closing high.

On the other hand, airline stocks have moved sharply lower on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca Airline Index down by 2.2 percent.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 1 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index dipped by 0.2 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the downside over the course of the session. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index edged down by 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have pulled back off their best levels of the day but continue to see modest strength. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.3 basis points at 1.474 percent.

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