Major Averages Little Changed After Early Volatility

After seeing considerable volatility early in the session, stocks are turning in a lackluster performance in afternoon trading on Wednesday. The major averages showed wild swings in early trading but are now lingering near the unchanged line.

Currently, the major averages are turning in a mixed performance. While the Dow is up 46.38 points or 0.2 percent at 31,422.21, the Nasdaq is down 17.91 points or 0.1 percent at 13,989.79 and the S&P 500 is down 1.51 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 3,909.72.

Stocks initially moved to the upside on the heels of upbeat earnings news from big-name companies like Twitter (TWTR), Coca-Cola (KO), and Lyft (LYFT), with the major averages reaching new record intraday highs.

Buying interest waned shortly after the start of trading, however, as traders expressed some uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets.

The major averages subsequently pulled back sharply, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading the way lower amid weakness among stocks like Amazon (AMZN) and Apple (AAPL).

Traders may be worried that the markets have become overbought as a new fiscal stimulus bill continues to slowly work its way through Congress.

Negotiations over the previous bipartisan bill took months to complete, and it remains to be seen if Democrats will be able to keep their caucus together and pass a relief package through the reconciliation process.

In economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing consumer prices in the U.S. increased in line with economist estimates in the month of January.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index rose by 0.3 percent in January after edging up by a revised 0.2 percent in December.

Economists had expected consumer prices to climb by 0.3 percent compared to the 0.4 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

Excluding food and energy prices, core consumer prices came in unchanged for the second consecutive month. Core prices were expected to rise by 0.2 percent.

Shortly, trading may be impacted by remarks by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who is scheduled to speak before a virtual Economic Club of New York event.

Sector News

Airline stocks have shown a strong move back to the upside following the pullback seen in the previous session, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index jumping by 2.1 percent.

Significant strength has also emerged among energy stocks, which are moving higher amid a continued increase by the price of crude oil. Crude for March delivery is climbing $0.37 to $58.73 a barrel, moving higher for the eighth straight session.

Reflecting the strength in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is up by 1.9 percent, the NYSE Arca Oil Index is up by 1.2 percent and the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index is up by 1.1 percent.

On the other hand, tobacco stocks are giving back ground following recent strength, dragging the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index down by 1.1 percent. The index ended the previous session at its best closing level in well over a year.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index inched up by 0.2 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index jumped by 1.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside over the course of the session. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.4 percent and the German DAX Index slid by 0.6 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have rebounded after moving to the downside at the start of trading. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.7 basis points at 1.140 percent.

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