U.S. equities finished mixed in choppy trading, as early optimism following some positive earnings results came up against an increase in worries over trade in the wake of downbeat comments from U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Some caution may have had a slight impact on sentiment as well, as the U.S. Senate brought two competing plans to the floor to end the government shutdown, with both failing to end the impasse. News on the economic front was mixed, as the Leading Index fell, manufacturing data improved and jobless claims declined to its lowest level in nearly 30 years. Treasury yields were lower, as was gold, while the U.S. dollar and crude oil prices were higher.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell 22 points (0.1%) to 24,553, the S&P 500 Index nudged 4 points (0.1%) higher to 2,642, and the NASDAQ Composite rose 48 points (0.7%) to 7,073. In moderate volume, 789 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 2.3 billion shares changed hands on the NASDAQ. WTI crude oil gained $0.51 to $53.13 per barrel and wholesale gasoline was unchanged at $1.40 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price declined $2.01 to $1,280.71 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—was up 0.5% at 96.58.
The Conference Board’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) for December decreased 0.1% month-over-month (m/m), matching Bloomberg projections and compared to November’s unrevised 0.2% increase. The yield curve, jobless claims, and consumer expectations were positive, while stock prices, new orders and building permits were negative.
The preliminary Market U.S. Manufacturing PMI Index showed growth increased more than expected, rising to 54.9 in January, from December’s 53.8 figure, and versus estimates calling for a dip to 53.5. Moreover, the preliminary Market U.S. Services PMI Index showed growth decelerated less than expected for the key U.S. sector, decreasing to 54.2 from December’s 54.4 figure, versus expectations to nudge lower to 54.0. Readings above 50 for both indexes denote expansion.
Weekly initial jobless claims decreased by 13,000 to 199,000, below the estimate of 218,000 and at its lowest level since 1969, with the prior week’s figure revised downward to 212,000. The four-week moving average fell by 5,500 to 215,000, while continuing claims decreased by 24,000 to 1,713,000, south of estimates of 1,730,000.
The January Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Activity Index decreased less than expected to 5, from December’s upwardly-revised level of 6, and versus forecasts of 3, but a reading above zero denotes expansion.
Treasuries were higher, as yield on the 2-year note was down 2 basis points (bps) to 2.56%, while the yields on the 10-year note and the 30-year bond were 3 bps lower at 2.71% and 3.03%, respectively. Stocks were mixed in choppy action after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated on CNBC that the U.S. is still “miles and miles” from a trade deal with China. The U.S. government shutdown entered Day 34, as dueling plans from each political party both failed after a vote on the U.S. Senate floor, keeping the impasse intact.
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