Categories: Economic News

US stocks rise after outburst of mixed economic data

Wall Street stocks rose on Thursday after disappointing U.S. home sales data followed better-than-expected labor market and manufacturing reports, adding to a sense of economic uncertainty worldwide

The broad S&P 500 ended the day up 0.2%, as did the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite. In Europe, the regional Stoxx 600 gained 0.4 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.8%.

The moves came after jobless data for the week ended Aug. 13 painted an upbeat picture, with 250,000 weekly jobless claims in the United States, 15,000 fewer than expected. Later on Thursday afternoon, data showed previously owned home sales in the world’s largest economy posted an annualized pace of 4.81 million units in July, up nearly 6 percent down from the previous month and below consensus estimates of 4.89 million.

Separately, a Philadelphia Federal Reserve survey of US manufacturing activity came in at a reading of 6.2 for August, well above the previous month’s figure of minus 12.3 and beating expectations for to a reading of minus 5.

The details of the survey “were mixed and not particularly surprising across the board,” JPMorgan analysts wrote, but “this report sent a much more upbeat signal about manufacturing conditions than the U.S. manufacturing survey did.” ‘Empire State of August, very negative. [from the New York Fed] which was published at the beginning of the week”.

Investors have been poring over economic data released in recent weeks for clues about how aggressively the Fed will raise borrowing costs to deal with rapid price growth.

In government bond markets, the yield on the policy-sensitive two-year US Treasury note fell 0.08 percentage point to 3.21%, reflecting a rise in the price of the debt instrument . The benchmark US 10-year yield fell 0.02 percentage points to 2.88%.

A day earlier, minutes from the Fed’s latest meeting indicated that tight interest rates would be in place “for some time.” Details of the discussion indicated that central bank officials supported raising rates to the point where they acted as a drag on economic growth, but did not “encourage hawking” as much as some had hoped merchants, said Salman Ahmed, global head. of macro and strategic asset allocation at Fidelity.

“There is a big discrepancy between the markets and the Fed: the hard data [on inflation and jobs] they give no proof of an irrefutable situation for you to argue, question and push back,” Ahmed said.

While some investors talked about “peak inflation” after the US consumer price index showed signs of stabilizing in July, “the reality is that things are often more complicated,” Kasper said Elmgreen, head of equities at Amundi. “We have very mixed data, but the reality is that inflation remains well above levels that central banks are comfortable with.”

The U.S. dollar, normally seen as a safe-haven asset, which is rising on expectations of higher interest rates, added 0.8 percent against a basket of six other currencies to trade in around its highest level since July.

Beyond the Fed, central banks around the world have taken steps in recent months to deal with inflationary pressures. Norway on Thursday raised rates by 0.5 percentage points for the second time this year, to 1.75 percent. Norges Bank indicated it would raise rates further in September.


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