Stocks rise after US report offsets China weakness
Stocks rose Thursday after a survey showed that U.S. manufacturing expanded at the fastest pace in almost four years. The report helped offset weak Chinese manufacturing data.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose five points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,834 as of 11 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 55 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,096. The Nasdaq composite gained 12 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,250.
MADE IN THE USA: Manufacturing in the U.S. expanded at the fastest pace in almost four years in February, according to a private survey by Markit. The survey showed a strong rebound after a slowdown in January. The Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing index rose to 56.7 from 53.7 in January. Numbers above 50 show activity increasing.
KEEP THE FAITH: The strong manufacturing survey comes after some weak economic reports at the start of the year and should help ease some of the concerns about the health of the U.S. economy that pushed stocks lower in January.
"If you look at the health of manufacturing and the health of the consumer and those two things are good, it's positive indeed," said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at ING Investment Management. He expects the S&P 500 index to climb as high as 2,020 this year.
CHINA SLOWDOWN: The results from the U.S. survey contrasted with a survey of manufacturing in China, where manufacturing contracted for a second straight month in February. The preliminary version of the HSBC Corp. purchasing managers' index fell to a seven-month low of 48.3 from 49.5 in January.
FACEBOOK DEAL: Facebook slipped $1.52, or 2.2 percent, to $66.55 after the world's biggest social network announced a $19 billion purchase of the popular messaging service WhatsApp late Wednesday. Wall Street analysts had mixed feelings about the deal and the price that Facebook paid.
EARNINGS JOLT: Tesla Motors jumped $14.37, or 7 percent, to $207.91 after the electric car maker delivered a strong fourth-quarter performance late Wednesday and said it expects the company's vehicle sales to rise sharply this year.
GROCERY SALE: Safeway was among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500 after the grocer said it was in talks to put itself up for sale. Safeway climbed $1.26, or 3.6 percent, to $35.87 after the company said late Wednesday that discussions are ongoing but that it hasn't yet reached an agreement on a transaction.
WALMART OUTLOOK: Walmart Stores fell $1.12, or 1.5 percent, to $73.73 after the company offered a weak profit outlook, signaling that it expects economic pressures to keep weighing on its low-income shoppers around the world. The world's largest retailer also said Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit, which covers the crucial holiday season, dropped 21 percent.
BONDS, COMMODITIES: The yield on the 10-year note was little changed from Wednesday at 2.74 percent. The price of oil fell 8 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $102.77. The price of gold fell $5.90, or 0.5 percent, to $1,314.50 an ounce.
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