Nasdaq Reaches New Record High Despite Choppy Trading

Stocks are turning in a relatively lackluster performance in morning trading on Thursday after ending the previous session modestly lower. Despite the choppy trading, the tech-heavy Nasdaq reached a new record intraday high.

Currently, the major averages are posting modest gains. The Dow is up 5.71 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 20,980.80, the Nasdaq is up 21.67 points or 0.4 percent at 6,046.89 and the S&P 500 is up 1.55 points or 0.1 percent at 2,389.00.

The lack of direction being shown by the markets comes as traders are digesting the latest batch of earnings news.

Shares of Comcast (CMCSA) seeing notable strength on the day after the telecom giant reported first quarter results that exceeded analyst estimates.

Drug giant Bristol-Myers (BMY) has also moved to the upside after reporting first quarter results that topped expectations.

On the other hand, Southwest Airlines (LUV) has come under pressure after reporting first quarter earnings and revenues that came in below analyst estimates.

Auto giant Ford (F) has also moved lower despite reporting better than expected first quarter results on both the top and bottom lines.

In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing an unexpected increase in initial jobless claims in the week ended April 22nd.

The report said initial jobless claims climbed to 257,000, an increase of 14,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 243,000.

The increase surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to edge down to 241,000 from the 244,000 originally reported for the previous week.

A separate report released by the Commerce Department showed that new orders for manufactured durable goods climbed by less than expected in the month of March.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders rose by 0.7 percent in March after jumping by a revised 2.3 percent in February.

Economists had expected orders to surge up by 1.2 percent compared to the 1.8 percent increase that had been reported for the previous month.

Excluding a jump in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders edged down by 0.2 percent in March after climbing by 0.7 percent in February.

The National Association of Realtors also released a report showing a pullback in pending home sales in the month of March.

NAR said its pending home sales index fell by 0.8 percent to 111.4 in March after jumping by 5.5 to 112.3 in February. Economists had expected pending home sales to drop by 1.0 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.

Railroad stocks have shown a significant move to the upside in morning trading, resulting in a 2.4 percent jump by the Dow Jones Railroads Index. With the increase, the index has reached a record intraday high.

Considerable strength is also visible among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 1.5 percent advance by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index. The index has climbed…

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