Major Averages Hovering Firmly In Positive Territory

Stocks have moved mostly higher in morning trading on Thursday following the mixed performance seen in the previous session. The major averages have all moved to the upside, with the Dow and the S&P 500 reaching new record intraday highs.

Currently, the major averages are hovering firmly in positive territory. The Dow is up 128.03 points or 0.5 percent at 24,068.71, the Nasdaq is up 35.22 points or 0.5 percent at 6,859.61 and the S&P 500 is up 10.04 points or 0.4 percent at 2,636.11.

The strength on Wall Street is partly due to optimism about the outlook for tax reform after Senate Republicans cleared a key procedural hurdle.

The Senate voted 52 to 48 along party lines to begin formal debate on the GOP tax reform bill after negotiations convinced Republican holdouts to vote for the legislation.

The approval of the procedural motion sets the stage for a final Senate vote on the tax reform bill late Thursday or early Friday.

The vote came as Senate Republican leaders convinced some GOP holdouts that their concerns with the legislation would be addressed.

Upbeat economic data may also have generated some buying interest, with a Labor Department report showing a modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended November 25th.

The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 238,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 240,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 240,000 from the 239,000 originally reported for the previous week.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed personal income increased by slightly more than expected in October, while personal spending rose in line with estimates.

The report said personal income climbed by 0.4 percent in October, matching the increase seen in September. Economists had expected income to rise by 0.3 percent.

The Commerce Department also said personal spending rose by 0.3 percent in October after climbing by a downwardly revised 0.9 percent in September.

Economists had expected spending to rise by 0.3 percent compared to the 1.0 percent jump originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, MNI Indicators released a report showing a modest slowdown in the pace of growth in Chicago-area business activity in the month of November.

Oil service stocks have shown a substantial move to the upside on the day, driving the Philadelphia Oil Service Index up by 2.2 percent. The strength in the sector come as OPEC and other oil exporters are…

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