Stock Market Today: Putin Offers Peaceful Remarks, Stocks Grind Higher

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock markets were grinding higher in afternoon trading in the absence of any negative geopolitical headlines and as economic prospects continued to look brighter and brighter for many investors.

The S&P 500 (SPY) was rising 0.3% to 1,952.52. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) was increasing 0.25% to 16,693.19. The Nasdaq (QQQ) was higher by 0.27% to 4,445.91. The tech sector was trading in the green despite Cisco's (CSCO) heavily-weighted losses.

After a strong run-up for four sessions, the S&P 500 looks like it could bump against the short-term support/resistance area of 1,950, according to Schaeffer's Investment Research's senior equity analyst Joe Bell. But the analyst said weekly and daily charts are not signaling any overbought conditions.

"I expect that continued, sustained strong economic data will make itself evident that the Fed needs to step aside," said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management. Cote's expecting strong August retail sales on the back of a robust back-to-school shopping season amid signs of fewer layoffs and increasing wealth in the U.S.

The markets began the day with a knee-jerk reaction to the gain in initial jobless claims last week. But the losses were short-lived in light of the very marginal increase of the four-week moving average to 295,750, a level consistent with low levels of layoffs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to offer some conciliatory remarks to Western counterparts Thursday after saying overnight that he would do everything in his power to end the conflict in Ukraine. Meanwhile the Gaza ceasefire remained in force after Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to a five-day extension of the truce in the region.

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