Stocks moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday following the lackluster performance seen in the previous session. With the upward move on the day, the tech-heavy Nasdaq reached a new record closing high.

The major averages finished the day in positive territory but off their highs of the session. The Dow advanced 69.17 points or 0.3 percent to 20,728.49, the Nasdaq climbed 16.80 points or 0.3 percent to 5,914.34 and the S&P 500 rose 6.93 points or 0.3 percent to 2,368.06.

The moderate strength on Wall Street came following the release of a report from the Commerce Department showing stronger than previously estimated economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The report said real GDP climbed by 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the previously reported 1.9 percent increase. Economists had expected the pace of GDP growth to be upwardly revised to 2.0 percent.

Despite the upward revision, the GDP growth in the fourth quarter still reflects a notable slowdown from the 3.5 percent jump seen in the third quarter.

The Commerce Department said the stronger than previously estimated growth primarily reflected upward revisions to consumer spending and private inventory investment.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed a modest drop in initial jobless claims in the week ended March 25th.

The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 258,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week’s 261,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to decline to 247,000.

However, traders seemed somewhat reluctant to make more significant moves amid continued uncertainty about the outlook for President Donald Trump’s policy agenda.

The failure of the Republican healthcare bill has raised concerns about Trump’s ability to achieve other policy goals such as tax reform and increased infrastructure spending.

Sector News

Despite the upward move by the broader markets, many of the major sectors once again ended the day showing only modest moves.

Financial stocks saw considerable strength, however, with the Dow Jones Banks Index jumping by 1.7 percent and the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index climbing by 1.2 percent.

Some strength was also visible among computer hardware and railroad stocks, although buying interest was relatively subdued.

On the other hand, gold stocks showed a significant move to the downside, dragging the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index down by 1.7 percent.

The weakness in the gold sector came amid a decrease by the price of the precious metal, with gold for June delivery sliding $8.80 to $1,248 an ounce.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slid by 0.8 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell by 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both rose by 0.4 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries moved to the downside over the course of the trading session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, climbed by 3 basis points to 2.416 percent.

Looking Ahead

Economic data may continue to attract attention on Friday, with traders likely to keep an eye on reports on personal income and spending, consumer sentiment, and Chicago-area business activity.

by RTT Staff Writer

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