WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Stocks have moved moderately higher in morning trading on Friday, extending the upward trend seen over the past few sessions. With the continued advance on the day, the Dow and the S&P 500 have reached new record intraday highs.
Currently, the major averages off their best levels but holding on to gains. The Dow is up 134.31 points or 0.5 percent at 27,222.39, the Nasdaq is up 15.35 points or 0.2 percent at 8,211.39 and the S&P 500 is up 4.42 points or 0.2 percent at 3,004.33.
The markets continue to benefit from renewed optimism about the Federal Reserve lowering interest rates as soon as its next meeting later this month.
Congressional testimony from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell indicating crosscurrents, such as trade tensions and concerns about global growth, have continued to weigh on the U.S. economic outlook helped spark the resurgence in optimism about a rate cut.
Powell's remarks have triggered an upward trend on Wall Street that lifted the Dow above the 27,000 level for the first time ever.
Trading activity has remained somewhat subdued, however, as traders brace for the unofficial start of earnings season next week.
Citigroup (C), Goldman Sachs (GS), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), JPMorgan (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC), IBM (IBM), Netflix (NFLX), Microsoft (MSFT), and American Express (AXP) are among the slew of companies due to report their quarterly results.
Meanwhile, traders have largely shrugged off a report from the Labor Department showing U.S. producer prices unexpectedly edged higher in the month of June.
The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand inched up by 0.1 percent in June, matching the uptick seen in May. Economists had expected producer prices to come in unchanged.
Excluding food and energy prices, core producer prices climbed by 0.3 percent in June after rising by 0.2 percent in May. Core prices had been expected to show another 0.2 percent increase.
'The small gain in producer prices in June suggests the increase in tariffs on $200bn of imports from China has yet to generate a pick-up in inflation and confirms that underlying domestic inflationary pressures remain subdued,' said Michael Pearce, Senior U.S. Economist at Capital Economics.
He added, 'That should help ease any fears, following the June CPI figures released yesterday, that underlying consumer price inflation will rise back above 2%.'
Transportation stocks have shown a significant move to the upside in morning trading, driving the Dow Jones Transportation Average up by 1.6 percent. The average is on pace to end the session at a nearly two-month closing high.
Considerable strength has also emerged among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 1.2 percent gain being posted by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index.
Steel and chemical stocks are also seeing notable strength, while pharmaceutical and biotechnology stocks are extending the sell-off seen in the previous session.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index rose by 0.4 percent.
The major European markets have also shown modest moves to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index has risen by 0.5 percent, the German DAX Index is up by 0.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is just above the unchanged line.
In the bond market, treasuries are seeing modest weakness, extending the notable drop seen on Thursday. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 1.4 basis points at 2.134 percent.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX