Profit Taking Points to Early Weakness on Wall Street

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The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a lower opening on Monday, as traders may look to cash in on the recent strength on Wall Street.

Following the lacklustre performance seen in the previous session, stocks continued to show a lack of direction during trading on Friday. The major averages spent much of the day lingering near the unchanged line.

The major averages eventually closed mixed. While the Nasdaq inched up 5.61 points or 0.1 percent to a new record closing high of 5,660.68, the Dow edged down 7.13 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 20,093.78 and the S&P 500 dipped 1.99 points or 0.1 percent to 2,294.69.

Despite the roughly sideways movement over the past two days, the major averages moved notably higher for the week. The Nasdaq surged up by 1.9 percent, the Dow jumped by 1.3 percent and the S&P 500 advanced by 1 percent.

The choppy trading on Wall Street came as traders remained reluctant to make significant moves amid uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets following recent strength.

Traders were also digesting the mixed batch of earnings news released by several big-name technology companies after the close of trading on Thursday.

While Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL) reported weaker than expected fourth quarter earnings, Intel (INTC) and Microsoft (MSFT) both reported better than expected quarterly results.

In economic news, the Commerce Department released a report showing economic growth in the U.S. slowed by more than anticipated in the final three months of 2016.

The report said gross domestic product increased by 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter following a 3.5 percent jump in the third quarter. Economists had expected GDP to climb by 2.2 percent.

Economists noted that the slowdown was largely due to the impact of fluctuations in trade and said the third and fourth quarters together indicate a strong second half.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed durable goods orders unexpectedly declined in December amid a continued decrease in orders for transportation equipment.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders fell by 0.4 percent in December after tumbling by a revised 4.8 percent in November. Economists had expected durable goods orders to jump by 2.6 percent.

However, excluding the drop in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders rose by 0.5 percent in December after jumping by 1.0 percent in November. The increase matched estimates.

The University of Michigan also released a report showing that consumer sentiment unexpectedly improved to its highest level in thirteen years in January.

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