U.S. Stocks Inch Up To New Record Highs In Morning Trading

Stocks have moved modestly higher in morning trading on Tuesday, with the major averages inching up to new record intraday highs. Buying interest has remained somewhat subdued, however, limiting the upside for the markets.

Currently, the major averages are holding on to slim gains. The Dow is up 34.94 points or 0.1 percent at 28,101.41, the Nasdaq is up 17.38 points or 0.2 percent at 8,649.87 and the S&P 500 is up 3.59 points or 0.1 percent at 3,137.23.

The modest strength on Wall Street reflects recent upward momentum amid persistent optimism the U.S. and China will ultimately reach a trade agreement.

A statement from China’s Commerce Ministry revealed Chinese Vice Premier Liu He held a phone call with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin earlier today.

The statement said the two sides discussed how to resolve each other’s core concerns, reached consensus on how to resolve related issues, and agreed to maintain communication on the remaining issues in the first phase of agreement negotiations.

However, traders seem reluctant to make more significant moves, with some looking to get a head start on the Thanksgiving Day holiday on Thursday.

As if often the case nowadays, traders have largely shrugged off the latest economic data, including a report from the Conference Board unexpectedly showing a continued drop in consumer confidence in November.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index fell to 125.5 in November from an upwardly revised 126.1 in October.

Economists had expected the consumer confidence index to inch up to 126.9 from the 125.9 originally reported for the previous month.

“Consumer confidence declined for a fourth consecutive month, driven by a softening in consumers’ assessment of current business and employment conditions,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board.

“However, consumers’ short-term expectations improved modestly, and growth in early 2020 is likely to remain at around 2 percent,” she added. “Overall, confidence levels are still high and should support solid spending during this holiday season.”

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed new home sales pulled back from a significantly upwardly level in October.

The Commerce Department said new home sales fell by 0.7 percent to an annual rate of 733,000 in October after surging up by 4.5 percent to an upwardly revised rate of 738,000 in September.

Economists had expected new home sales to jump by 1.1 percent to a rate of 709,000 from the 701,000 originally reported for the previous month.

With the upward revision, new home sales in September were at their highest level since hitting 778,000 in July of 2007.

Gold stocks are turning in some of the market’s best performances in morning trading, with the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index climbing by 1.3 percent.

The strength among gold stocks comes amid a modest increase by the price of the precious metal, as gold for December delivery is rising $1.50 to $1,458.40 an ounce.

Commercial real estate and housing stocks are also seeing some strength on the day, while energy stocks have come under pressure despite an increase by the price of crude oil.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Tuesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.4 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index closed just above the unchanged line.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have turned mixed on the day. While the German DAX Index is just below the unchanged line, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.1 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.2 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are extending the modest upward move seen in the previous session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 3.1 basis points at 1.733 percent.

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