Wall Street Stocks Edge Higher In A Muted Start To September

FILE - Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, July 19, 2021. Stocks are inching higher in the early going on Wall Street Wednesday, Sept. 1, with gains from tech giants leading the way. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Stocks edged higher in midday trading on Wall Street Wednesday as investors continue monitoring the latest economic data for a better sense of the economic recovery’s path forward.

The S&P 500 index rose 0.2% as of 11:53 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 23 points, or 0.1%, to 35,337 and the Nasdaq rose 0.7%.

Technology and communications stocks made solid gains that helped lift an otherwise choppy market. Apple rose 1.9%. More stocks were falling than rising in the benchmark S&P 500.

Investors were weighing a weak survey from payroll processor ADP that showed U.S. companies added jobs at a much slower pace than economists had anticipated. The weak report follows a disappointing consumer confidence survey on Tuesday and comes ahead of the Labor Department’s release of its August jobs report on Friday.

“Friday’s (jobs) numbers are going to be very carefully looked at on all levels,” said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager with Globalt Investments.

The report should provide more clues about the strength of the job market and might give investors a clearer sense of whether the Federal Reserve will decide at its upcoming September meeting on a timeline for paring back the $120 billion in bond purchases it’s making each month. Fed Chair Jerome Powell has signaled that the central bank will continue to keep interest rates low for the foreseeable future, even when it tapers the bond buying.

Meanwhile, The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, reported that growth in U.S. manufacturing accelerated in August despite the fact that companies were still struggling with supply chain problems. The supply chain issues, along with improvements in employment, are key factors in how investors are gauging the direction and potential impact of inflation, Martin said.

The broader market has been pushing higher all year, with the S&P 500 closing out August with its seventh straight monthly gain, marking it’s longest such winning streak since early 2018. Much of the momentum has been sustained by low interest rates favoring stock investments and a steady economic recovery, but investors are growing more cautious.

COVID-19′s more contagious delta variant has raised concerns that consumers could pull back on spending and a much needed recovery in the jobs market could stall.

The focus on broader economic data comes as the market quiets down following a solid corporate earnings season.

Elsewhere, oil prices slumped 1%, putting some weight on energy stocks. Occidental Petroleum fell 2.4%.

Copper prices slipped 2.2% and pushed some key copper mining companies lower. Freeport-McMoRan fell 1.6%.

PVH, which owns the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands, jumped 14.5% after raising its profit forecast for the year. Other stocks making big gains include video-compression chipmaker Ambarella, which gained 20.3% after reporting solid second-quarter financial results.

Bond yields were stable. The yield on the 10-year Treasury remained at 1.30% from late Tuesday.

Markets in Europe and Asia were mostly higher.

By DAMIAN J. TROISE - Sept 1. 2021



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