WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Stocks have moved mostly higher over the course of the trading session, with the Dow and the S&P 500 joining the tech-heavy Nasdaq firmly in positive territory. The upward move on the day comes after the major averages closed lower for two straight sessions.
The major averages have seen further upside in recent trading, reaching new highs for the session. The Dow is up 223.38 points or 0.7 percent at 33,036.61, the Nasdaq is up 267.85 points or 2.2 percent at 12,262.31 and the S&P 500 is up 52.12 points or 1.3 percent at 4,153.35.
The strength on Wall Street may reflect optimism that the Federal Reserve could alter its plans to aggressively raise interest rates in the light of some weak economic data.
Before the start of trading, payroll processor ADP released a report showing much weaker than expected private sector job growth in the month of May.
ADP said private sector employment climbed by 128,000 jobs in May after jumping by a downwardly revised 202,000 jobs in April.
Economists had expected private sector employment to surge by 300,000 jobs compared to the addition of 247,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
However, Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard told CNBC it's 'very hard to see the case for a pause' in rate hikes, noting the central bank still has 'a lot of work to do to get inflation down to our 2% target.'
On Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched monthly employment report, which includes both public and private sector jobs.
Economists currently expect employment to jump by 325,000 jobs in May after surging by 428,000 jobs in April, while the unemployment rate is expected to edge down to 3.5 percent from 3.6 percent.
Gold stocks continue to see substantial strength in afternoon trading, resulting in a 4.6 percent spike by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index.
The rally by gold stocks comes amid a notable increase by the price of the precious metal, with gold for August delivery surging $22.70 to $1,871.40 an ounce.
Substantial strength has also emerged among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 2.8 percent jump by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index.
Steel stocks also continue to turn in a strong performance on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Steel Index up by 2.7 percent.
Retail, chemical and computer hardware stocks have also shown notable moves to the upside, moving higher along with most of the other major sectors.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged down by 0.2 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index rose by 0.4 percent.
Meanwhile, European stocks moved mostly higher, with the markets in London closed for the queen's Platinum Jubilee. While the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 1.3 percent, the German DAX Index shot up by 1 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries have shown a lack of direction over the course of session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by less than a basis points at 2.922 percent.
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