WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Stocks moved mostly higher in early trading on Thursday but have given back ground over the course of the session. The major averages have pulled back off their highs of the session, with the Dow and the S&P 500 falling into negative territory.
Currently, the major averages are turning in a mixed performance. While the Nasdaq is up 19.40 points or 0.2 percent at 11,072.48, the Dow is down 127.57 points or 0.4 percent at 30,355.56 and the S&P 500 is down 7.59 points or 0.2 percent at 3,752.30.
The early strength on Wall Street came as traders once again looked for bargains, picking up stocks at relatively reduced levels following recent weakness in the markets.
Buying interest remained somewhat subdued, however, as concerns about a potential recession continued to weigh on the markets.
Traders kept an eye on Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's before the House Financial Services Committee, with the Fed chief reiterating his commitment to moving expeditiously to bring inflation back down.
The Fed's plans to aggressively raise interest rates to combat inflation has led to concerns tighter monetary policy will tip the economy into a recession.
Powell has 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.
Energy stocks are extending the sell-off seen in the previous session, as the price of crude oil sees further downside. After tumbling $3.33 to $106.19 a barrel a barrel on Wednesday, crude for August delivery is slumping $2.29 to $103.90 a barrel.
Reflecting the weakness in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is down by 4.9 percent and the NYSE Arca Oil Index is down by 4.4 percent.
Substantial weakness has also emerged among gold stocks, as reflected by the 3.9 percent nosedive by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index. The weakness in the sector comes as gold for August delivery is falling $7.90 to $1,830.50 an ounce.
Steel, banking and airline stocks are also seeing considerable weakness in afternoon trading, while significant strength remains visible among biotechnology, housing and utilities stocks.
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 all moved to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index tumbled by 1.8 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slumped by 1 percent and the French CAC 40 Index slid by 0.6 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 10.6 basis points at 3.050 percent.
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