U.S. Stocks Continue To See Substantial Strength After Early Rally

After moving sharply higher early in the session, stocks continue to turn in a strong performance in early afternoon trading on Friday. The rally on the day has partly offset the recent sell-off, although the major averages remain lower for the week.

Currently, the major averages are just off their highs of the session. The Dow is up 460.31 points or 1.5 percent at 32,190.61, the Nasdaq is up 453.90 points or 4 percent at 11,824.86 and the S&P 500 is up 99.20 points or 2.5 percent at 4,029.28.

The rally on Wall Street comes as traders once again attempt to go bargain hunting following the sharp decline shown by the markets over the past month.

The Dow and the S&P 500 ended Thursday’s trading well off their lows of the session but still finished the day at their lowest closing levels in over a year.

The S&P 500 also ended the session down by 18 percent compared to its record closing high in early January, just shy of the 20 percent plunge widely used as the technical definition of a bear market.

While recent bargain hunting efforts have largely been thwarted by worries about the Federal Reserve aggressively raising interest rates in an effort to combat elevated inflation, traders seem to be shrugging off those concerns.

The markets have also shrugged off a report from the University of Michigan showing consumer sentiment has deteriorated by much more than expected in the month of May.

The report showed the consumer sentiment index tumbled to 59.1 in May from 65.2 in April. Economists had expected the index to edge down to 64.0.

With the much bigger than expected decrease, the consumer sentiment index slumped to its lowest level since hitting 55.8 in August of 2011.

A separate report released by the Labor Department showed imports prices were unexpectedly unchanged in the month of April.

The Labor Department said import prices came in flat in April after surging by an upwardly revised 2.9 percent in March.

Economists had expected import prices to climb by 0.6 percent compared to the 2.6 percent jump originally reported for the previous month.

The report also showed the annual rate of growth in imports prices slowed to 12.0 percent in April from an upwardly revised 13.0 percent in March.

Sector News

Semiconductor stocks continue to turn in some of the market’s best performances in afternoon trading, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index soaring by 5.2 percent. The index continues to regain ground after hitting its lowest intraday level in over a year on Thursday.

Substantial strength also remains visible among oil service stocks, as reflected by the 4.8 percent spike by the Philadelphia Oil Service Index.

The rally by oil service stocks comes amid a sharp increase by the price of crude oil, with crude for June delivery surging $4.04 to $110.17 a barrel.

Brokerage stocks also continue to see considerable strength on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index up by 4.7 percent.

Airline, computer hardware, biotechnology and networking stocks have also shown strong moves to the upside amid broad based buying interest.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved sharply higher during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index surged up by 2.6 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index spiked by 2.7 percent.

The major European markets also showed strong moves to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index jumped by 2.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index soared by 2.5 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries are giving back ground after moving sharply higher over the past few sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 10.9 basis points at 2.926 percent.

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