Stocks are trading lower amid disappointing economic data released before the opening bell this morning. Also, new indicators show China's manufacturing sector contracted for the third month in a row. Still, sentiment among U.S. consumers logged modest gains, providing some support.
In the latest economic data, the Commerce Department reported that personal income fell 0.1% in August, the largest decrease since October 2009. Consumer spending rose 0.2% in August after a 0.7% gain in July. Real consumer spending, adjusted for inflation, was flat. Wall Street economists had expected a flat reading for incomes and a 0.1% gain in spending.
The Fed's favorite measure of inflation, the personal consumption expenditure price index, rose 0.2% in August compared with July and is up 2.9% in the past year. The core PCE rate rose 0.1% in August, weaker than the 0.2% gain forecast. The core PCE index is up 1.6% year-on-year.
Overseas, a Chinese manufacturing measure showed contraction for a third straight month. The HSBC purchasing managers' index ( PMI ), which previews business conditions in a range of industries before official output data, was at 49.9 in September, unchanged from August. Readings below 50 indicate contracting business. The final PMI, released on Friday, was stronger than the flash reading published last week.
In company news:
Shares of McGraw-Hill Cos. ( MHP ) are down after the company is said to be in advanced talks to combine its S&P Indices business with CME Group Inc.'s ( CME ) Dow Jones Indexes, The Wall Street Journal reported on its online edition late Thursday. CME owns 90% of the Dow Jones Indexes through a joint venture with Dow Jones & Co. CME would have a minority stake of about 25%, while Dow Jones could have a minimal stake under the deal.
ADRs of Statol ( STO ) are higher after the company said significant upside potential exists in the Avaldsnes discovery in the North Sea, confirming an announcement from Avaldsnes operator Lundin Norway AS and giving another lift to the Norwegian North Sea.
UBS' ( UBS ) US-traded shares are down after lawmakers in Bern, Switzerland, backed proposals to limit risk-taking after the largest Swiss bank said this month it may be unprofitable in Q3 after a $2.3 billion loss from unauthorized trading at its investment bank, Bloomberg reports.
Shares of Pfizer (PFE) are down after the company said that two if its anti-fungal drugs did not meet the key goal in a late-stage trial when used together. Pfizer tested Vfend in combination with Eraxis in patients with the life-threatening fungal infection invasive aspergillosis.
Micron Technology (MU) is down sharply after it reported a Q4 loss of $0.14 compared to income of $0.32 a year earlier and below the Thomson Reuters mean analyst estimate for profit of $0.01. Sales of $2.14 billion is down from $2.49 billion a year earlier. The Street looked for $2.1 billion.
Commodities are mixed. December gold contracts are up 0.43% to $1,625 an ounce while November crude oil contacts are down 1.9% to $80.58 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 2.25% to $31.24 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 1.41%, to $9.11.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.18% to $157.98. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 1.84% to $56.04. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 1.4% to $29.54.
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