Stocks moved to the upside early in the trading session on Friday but have shown a lack of direction over the course of the morning. The major averages are bouncing back and forth across the unchanged after reaching record intraday highs.
Currently, the major averages are turning in a mixed performance. While the Nasdaq is down 0.79 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 9,021.60, the Dow is up 50.96 points or 0.2 percent at 28,672.35 and the S&P 500 is up 2.42 points or 0.1 percent at 3,242.33.
Stocks have moved steadily higher throughout much of the past month, rarely showing significant moves to the upside but also refraining from the pullbacks typically seen as traders cash in on recent strength.
The perpetual advance comes as the news the U.S. and China reached an agreement on a phase one trade deal has helped lift some of the uncertainty hanging over the markets.
Buying interest has remained somewhat subdued, however, as the details of the deal are still unknown and the trade dispute between the U.S. and China will persist even after the agreement is signed.
As the same time, the somewhat stifled nature of the rally has made traders reluctant to take profits amid concerns about missing out on any further upside.
Today’s trading may reflect another in a long string of modest advances as traders look to do some further window dressing going into the end of the year.
Nonetheless, many traders remain away from their desks following the Christmas holiday on Wednesday and the New Year’s Day holiday next Wednesday, potentially leading to some volatility.
A lack of major U.S. economic data may also keep traders on the sidelines as they attempt to deduce what is in store for the economy in the New Year.
Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, contributing to the lackluster performance by the broader markets.
Tobacco stocks have shown a substantial move to the upside, however, with the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index surging up by 2.1 percent to its best intraday level in four months.
The strength in the sector comes amid news the FDA has officially changed the federal minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.4 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped by 1.3 percent.
The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. While the German DAX Index is up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is just below the unchanged line and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.1 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries have moved to the upside after ending the previous session roughly flat. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 2.8 basis points at 1.877 percent.