Wall Street mixed on good US, China factory data

Trader Gregory Rowe, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. File photo / AP
Trader Gregory Rowe, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. File photo / AP

Wall Street hovered near record highs as this week's flurry of economic data kicked off with solid manufacturing statistics in the US and China, as well as American existing home sales.

In the US, Markit's preliminary manufacturing purchasing managers' index climbed to 57.5 in June, up from 56.4 in the previous month and the strongest upturn in overall business conditions since May 2010.

"US industry is booming again, with the flash manufacturing PMI hitting its highest for just over four years in June," Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said in a statement. "The strong reading also rounds off the best quarter for factories for four years, adding to indications that the US economy rebounded strongly in the second quarter from the weather-related weakness seen at the start of the year."

In China, the HSBC/Markit manufacturing PMI increased to 50.8 in June, up from 49.4 a month earlier, a better-than-expected reading for the world's second-largest economy.

"The improvement was broad-based with both domestic orders and external demand sub-indices in expansionary territory. Inventory reduction quickened, and the employment sub-index also showed signs of stabilisation," Hongbin Qu, chief economist, China & co-head of Asian economic research at HSBC, said in a statement. "This month's improvement is consistent with data suggesting that the authorities' mini-stimulus are filtering through to the real economy."

In the final hour of trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.16 per cent, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index slipped 0.10 per cent. The Nasdaq Composite Index eked out a 0.03 per cent gain.

"Right now we're digesting last week's gains and keeping an eye on all the economic data that's coming out this week," Leo Grohowski, chief investment officer at BNY Mellon Wealth Management in New York, told Reuters. "We're not likely to see a major pullback given healthy activity like buybacks and mergers, but today is a day of quiet consolidation."

American real estate offered reasons for optimism. Total existing-home sales rose 4.9 per cent, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million in May, from an upwardly-revised 4.66 million in April. It was the highest monthly rise since August 2011.

"Home buyers are benefiting from slower price growth due to the much-needed, rising inventory levels seen since the beginning of the year," Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a statement. "Moreover, sales were helped by the improving job market and the temporary but slight decline in mortgage rates."

Shares of General Electric fell, last down 1.2 per cent and leading the decline in the Dow, after the company secured support from the French government for its US$17 billion purchase of Alstom's energy assets.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the session with a 0.5 per cent drop from the previous close. The UK's FTSE 100 fell 0.4 per cent, while France's CAC 40 declined 0.6 per cent and Germany's DAX shed 0.7 per cent.

Here, euro-zone manufacturing and services activity fell in June, with Markit's PMI composite output index declining to 52.8, down from 53.5 in May and the lowest in six months.

"The June PMI rounded off the strongest quarter for three years, but a concern is that a second consecutive monthly fall in the index signals that the eurozone recovery is losing momentum," Markit's Williamson said.

"Hopefully the recent stimulus measures from the [European Central Bank] will help revive growth again, something which may already be evident as the survey saw the largest increase in inflows of new business for three years in June," Williamson said

- BusinessDesk

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