WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - With many traders away from their desks before Christmas, stocks showed a lack of direction throughout the abbreviated trading session on Thursday. The major averages spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.
The choppy trading on Wall Street came as many traders looked to get a head start on the upcoming three-day weekend, as the markets closed earlier than usual.
The markets closed at 1 pm ET this afternoon in honor of Christmas Eve and remain closed for all of Christmas Day on Friday.
Traders largely shrugged off a Labor Department report showing that initial jobless claims fell by more than expected in the week ended December 19th.
Most of the major sectors showed only modest moves on the day, contributing to the lackluster performance by the broader markets.
Gold stocks saw substantial strength, however, with the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index jumping by 2.6 percent. The strength in the sector came as gold for February delivery climbed $7.60 to $1,075.90 an ounce.
Biotechnology and airline stocks also moved to the upside, while weakness was visible among steel and energy stocks.
The major averages eventually ended the session mixed. While the Nasdaq inched up 2.56 points or 0.1 percent to 5,048.49, the Dow fell 50.44 points or 0.3 percent to 17,552.17 and the S&P 500 dipped 3.30 points or 0.2 percent to 2,060.99.
Despite the mixed performance on the day, the major averages all moved notably higher for the week. The S&P 500 jumped by 2.8 percent, while the Dow and the Nasdaq both surged up by 2.5 percent.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX