Stocks Move Mostly Higher In Morning Trading

Stocks have moved mostly higher in morning trading on Thursday, adding to the gains posted in the two previous sessions. With the upward move on the day, the tech-heavy Nasdaq is on pace to end the session at its best closing level in a month.

Currently, the major averages are hovering in positive territory. The Dow is up 55.92 points or 0.3 percent at 21,948.35, the Nasdaq is up 33.22 points or 0.5 percent at 6,401.53 and the S&P 500 is up 9.86 points or 0.4 percent at 2,467.45.

The strength on Wall Street comes following the release of a slew of U.S. economic data, including a Commerce Department report showing a bigger than expected increase in personal income.

The Commerce Department said personal income climbed by 0.4 percent in July after coming in unchanged in June. Economists had expected income to rise by 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the report said personal spending rose by 0.3 percent in July after edging up by 0.2 percent in the previous month. Spending had been expected to increase by 0.4 percent.

The Labor Department released a separate report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits edged slightly higher in the week ended August 26th.

The report said initial jobless claims inched up to 236,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 235,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 237,000 from the 234,000 originally reported for the previous week.

MNI Indicators also released a report showing continued growth in Chicago-area business activity in the month of August.

The Chicago business barometer came in at 58.9 in August, unchanged from July. A reading above 50 indicates growth. Economists had expected the barometer to edge down to 58.5.

A separate report from the National Association of Realtors showed an unexpected decrease in pending home sales in the month of July.

NAR said its pending home sales index fell by 0.8 percent to 109.1 in July from a downwardly revised 110.0 in June. Economists had expected pending home sales to rise by 0.5 percent.

A pending home sale is one in which a contract was signed but not yet closed. Normally, it takes four to six weeks to close a contracted sale.

Biotechnology stocks have shown a strong move to the upside on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index up by 1.4 percent. With the advance, the index has reached its best intraday level in over two years.

Natural gas, gold, and pharmaceutical stocks are also seeing considerable strength, moving higher along…

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