Stocks Continue To Show A Lack Of Direction In Mid-Day Trading

After showing a lack of direction early in the session, stocks continue to turn in a lackluster performance in mid-day trading on Thursday. The major averages have spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

Currently, the major averages are turning in a mixed performance. While the Nasdaq is up 9.33 points or 0.2 percent at 6,402.64, the Dow is down 40.53 points or 0.2 percent at 21,767.11 and the S&P 500 is down 2.14 points or 0.1 percent at 2,463.40.

The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as traders continue to digest the European Central Bank’s monetary policy announcement.

The ECB kept all three of its interest rates unchanged and said it expects rates to remain at their current levels for an extended period of time.

The central bank also confirmed that its net asset purchases are intended to run at the current monthly pace of 60 billion euros until the end of December, or beyond, if necessary.

ECB President Mario Draghi’s subsequent press conference was seen as dovish, as he said inflation is still expected to move towards the bank’s target but warned downside economic risks continue to exist.

Draghi also suggested that decisions about the future of the ECB’s massive stimulus would be put off until the next monetary policy meeting in late October.

On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing a sharp increase in first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended September 2nd.

The report said initial jobless claims jumped to 298,000, an increase of 62,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 236,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 241,000.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed labor productivity increased by more than initially estimated in the second quarter, while unit labor costs rose by less than initially estimated.

The Labor Department said labor productivity climbed by 1.5 percent in the second quarter compared to the previously reported 0.9 percent increase. Economists had expected the pace of productivity growth to be upwardly revised to 1.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the report said unit labor costs rose by 0.2 percent during the quarter compared to the previously reported 0.6 percent growth. Unit labor costs had been expected to rise by a revised 0.3 percent.

Sector News

Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, contributing to the lackluster performance by the broader markets.

Financial stocks continue to see considerable…

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