WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - After ending the previous session slightly lower, stocks have moved moderately higher in morning trading on Thursday. The major averages have all moved to the upside, although buying interest has been somewhat subdued.
Currently, the major averages are off their highs of the session but in positive territory. The Dow is up 85.25 points or 0.3 percent at 30,568.38, the Nasdaq is up 65.32 points or 0.6 percent at 11,118.40 and the S&P 500 is up 12.81 points or 0.3 percent at 3,772.70.
The strength on Wall Street comes as traders once again look for bargains, picking up stocks at relatively reduced levels following recent weakness in the markets.
While the major averages are positive for the week following a rally on Tuesday, they are not far off their worst levels in over a year.
Buying interest has remained somewhat subdued, however, as concerns about a potential recession continue to weigh on the markets.
Trading may once again be impacted by reaction to congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who is appearing before the House Financial Services Committee.
Powell's prepared remarks will mirror those he delivered to the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday, although traders will be keeping an eye on the question-and-answer segment of his testimony.
During yesterday's testimony, Powell indicated the Fed plans to continue moving expeditiously to combat inflation but argued the U.S. economy is strong enough to handle tighter monetary policy.
However, Powell later acknowledged that achieving a 'soft landing' will be 'very challenging' due in part to factors outside of the Fed's control and noted a recession is 'certainly a possibility.'
In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits edged slightly lower in the week ended June 18th.
The report showed initial jobless claims dipped to 229,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised level of 231,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to slip to 227,000 from the 229,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Biotechnology stocks are extending the strong upward move seen over the past few sessions, driving the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index up by 2 percent.
Significant strength is also visible among housing stocks, as reflected by the 1.9 percent gain being posted by the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index.
Interest rate-sensitive utilities stocks are also turning in a strong performance, resulting in a 1.5 percent advance by the Dow Jones Utilities Average.
Healthcare, telecom and tobacco stocks are also seeing notable strength, while airline, steel and banking stocks have moved to the downside.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index surged up by 1.6 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index has slumped by 1.4 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index are both down by 0.7 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries are extending the strong upward move seen in the previous session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 12.3 basis points at 3.033 percent.
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