Stocks are near the flat line in mid-day trading as data released this morning showed manufacturing in the U.S. rose more than analysts had predicted. The data provided support to equities after a report this morning showed unemployment claims, while lower, didn't decline as much as economists had expected.
The August ISM manufacturing index was 50.6, better than forecasts for 48.8, according to Marketwatch.com. This overshadowed less robust data. Outlays for U.S. construction projects fell 1.3% in July, the largest decline since January, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The decline came as a surprise to economists surveyed by MarketWatch who were expecting a 0.3% increase.
New applications for unemployment compensation fell by 12,000 last week to 409,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 421,000 from an original reading of 417,000. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected new requests for jobless benefits to drop to 405,000 in the week of Aug. 27 on a seasonally adjusted basis. The average of new claims over the past four weeks, meanwhile, rose by 1,750 to 410,250. The number of Americans who continue to receive regular state unemployment checks decreased by 18,000 to 3.74 million in the week ended Aug 20.
Also reported, U.S. productivity fell by an annual rate of 0.7% in the second quarter instead of a 0.3% drop as initially reported. Unit-labor costs jumped by an annual rate of 3.3% last quarter, up from an initial estimate of 2.2%.
In company news:
BNY Mellon ( BK ) shares are seeing firm upside support after the company disclosed Wednesday night that Robert P. Kelly stepped down as chairman, chief executive officer and director. The company said Kelly's departure was by mutual agreement with the board of directors, due to differences in approach to managing the company.
Ciena ( CIEN ) is off regular session highs but still firm after the company reported earlier today Q3 sales were $435.3 million, below the mean estimate for $442.9 million. Non-GAAP EPS were $0.08 per share, better than forecasts for a loss of $0.08. Q4 sales are seen between $440 million to $460 million.
Shares of Wendy's ( WEN ) are higher after the fast food chain named Emil J. Brolick as President and CEO, effective September 12. He also will join the Board of Directors. He succeeds Roland Smith. Brolick was Chief Operating Officer of Yum! Brands.
Stereotaxis (STXS) shares are up 11.54% to $1.45 after climbing yesterday on news of positive outcomes in the Study to Obliterate Persistent Ventricular Tachycardia. The acute success rate in the study was 94%, and no patients suffered a major complication, it said. The acute success results obtained from the STOP-VT study are 10%-15% higher than similar published studies using conventional ablation techniques, the company said.
Goldman Sachs (GS), its Litton Loan Servicing unit and Ocwen Financial (OCN) have reached a deal to end robo-signing among other things. The agreement will allow Ocwen's $264 million buyout of Litton to proceed, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Shares of Apple (AAPL) are waffling between gains and losses as several reports say the computer maker is is getting hit with criticism from Chinese environmental activist Ma Jun concerning alleged polluted water and hazardous gases around plants believed to be Apple suppliers. The Wall Street Journal originated the report.
For August, retailers posted mixed sales results, with total retail sales rising 4.4%, short of the 4.6% analysts on Wall Street had predicted. Among retail names:
Shares of Chevron (CVX) are higher as the oil major said Thursday that it was evacuating workers from its operations in the Gulf of Mexico due to a tropical disturbance over the center of the area, Reuters reported. Production was not affected, the report said.
Commodities are mixed as December gold contracts are up 0.35% to $1,826 an ounce while October crude oil contacts are up 0.2% to $88.99 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.41% to $34.65 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 0.29%, to $10.19.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 0.1% to $177.54. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 0.56% to $63.15. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 0.3% to $40.57.
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