Stocks Give Back Ground But Remain Mostly Positive

Stocks remain mostly positive in mid-day trading on Thursday, although the major averages have pulled back off their highs of the session. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 reached new record intraday highs earlier in the day.

Currently, the major averages remain in positive territory. The Dow is up 46.83 points or 0.2 percent at 21,059.25, the Nasdaq is up 35.13 points or 0.6 percent at 6,198.15 and the S&P 500 is up 8.51 points or 0.4 percent at 2,412.90.

The continued strength on Wall Street is partly due to upbeat earnings news from some big-name retailers, which has helped offset some recent concerns about consumer spending.

Shares of Sears (SHLD) are sharply higher after the department store operator reported a narrower than expected first quarter loss on revenues that exceeded estimates.

Electronics retailer Best Buy (BBY) has also showed a substantial move to the upside after reporting first quarter results that beat expectations on both the top and bottom lines.

Traders also continue to respond positively to the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy meeting, which included an outline of a plan to trim its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.

Nearly all policymakers expressed a favorable view of the approach, which was seen as consistent with the intention to reduce the Fed’s securities holdings in a gradual and predictable manner.

Under the proposed approach, the Fed would announce a set of gradually increasing caps on the dollar amounts of Treasury and agency securities that would be allowed to run off each month.

Only the amounts of securities repayments that exceeded the caps would be reinvested each month, the minutes said.

In U.S. economic news, a report released by the Labor Department showed a slight uptick in first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended May 20th.

The report said initial jobless claims inched up to 234,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 233,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to…

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