Major Averages Turn Mixed After Early Move To The Downside

After coming under pressure early in the session, stocks have shown a significant recovery attempt over the course of the trading day on Friday. The major averages have climbed well off their lows of the session, with the Dow and the S&P 500 reaching positive territory.

Currently, the major averages are turning in a mixed performance. While the tech-heavy Nasdaq is down 25.69 points or 0.2 percent at 11,761.71, the Dow is up 22.62 points or 0.1 percent at 32,127.87 and the S&P 500 is up 4.42 points or 0.1 percent at 3,953.14.

The early weakness on Wall Street came as renewed concerns about the health of the banking sector inspired traders to cash in on yesterday’s gains.

U.S.-listed shares of Deutsche Bank (DB) moved sharply lower in early trading amid a spike by the German lender’s credit default swaps.

Credit Suisse (CS) and UBS Group (UBS) also came under pressure after a report from Bloomberg said they are among banks under scrutiny in a Justice Department probe into whether financial professionals helped Russian oligarchs evade sanctions.

UBS’ state-backed acquisition of troubled rival Credit Suisse for 3 billion Swiss francs, or $3.2 billion, helped ease concerns about recent banking industry turmoil earlier this week.

Selling pressure waned over the course of the session, however, as traders remain optimistic the Federal Reserve is nearing the end of its tightening cycle.

On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing a continued slump in orders for transportation equipment led to an unexpected decrease in new orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods in the month of February.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders slid by 1.0 percent in February after plummeting by a revised 5.0 percent in January.

Economists had expected durable goods orders to increase by 0.6 percent compared to the 4.5 percent plunge that had been reported for the previous month.

Excluding the steep drop in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders were unchanged in February after rising by 0.4 percent in January. Ex-transportation orders were expected to inch up by 0.2 percent.

Sector News

Interest rate-sensitive utilities stocks have moved sharply higher over the course of the session, resulting in a 2.2 percent jump by the Dow Jones Utility Average. The average is bouncing off its lowest closing level in five months.

Significant strength has also emerged among natural gas stocks, as reflected by the 1.6 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index. The strength in the sector comes amid a sharp increase by the price of the price of natural gas.

Commercial real estate stocks have also shown a strong move to the upside, driving the Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Index up by 1.4 percent.

On the other hand, significant weakness remains visible among semiconductor stocks, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index slumping by 2.1 percent after ending Thursday’s trading at its best closing level in almost a year.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.6 percent.

The major European markets also showed significant moves to the downside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slumped by 1.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both tumbled by 1.7 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have pulled back well off their early highs but remain in positive territory. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 3.3 basis points at 3.373 percent.

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