Stocks had their best day in about two weeks on Tuesday, as the S&P 500 crossed above 2,100, after we got some ugly data on American manufacturing.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,891.76, +171.84, (0.97%)
- S&P 500: 2,102.86, +22.45, (1.08%)
- Nasdaq: 5,155.64, +46.98, (0.92%)
And now, Tuesday’s top stories:
- American manufacturing is in recession. The Institute of Supply Management’s manufacturing index fell into contractionary territory in November for the first time since June 2009, to 48.6 (50.5 expected). And, Markit’s purchasing manager’s index was 52.8, the lowest level in 25 months. These numbers confirmed that the strong dollar, weak global demand, and cuts in energy-sector capital spending were still hurting the manufacturing sector.
- But economists quickly pointed out that manufacturing makes up just about 12% of the economy, and the other 88% is doing much better. “This is beginning to look very much like a repeat of the second half of the 1990s, when a sharp rise in the dollar also pushed the ISM manufacturing index well below the 50 mark on more than one occasion, yet headline GDP growth remained unusually strong,” wrote Capital Economics’ Steve Murphy to clients.
- Meanwhile, construction spending surged to an eight-year high in October. Spending rose 1% to a seasonally adjusted rate of $1.11 trillion, the highest since December 2007. It was a 10th straight month of gains that was boosted by robust private spending, which touched the highest level since January 2008.
- Volkswagen America sales plunged 24.7% in November. The big automakers reported sales throughout the day, and VW reported the biggest decline. The company halted sales of vehicles with the types of diesel engines that were found to have emissions-cheating software installed. And in the fallout, analysts are keenly watching for the impact on sales. Year-on-year sales are down just 4.3%.
- Societe Generale has marked its calendar for the end of the bull market: 2017. In its year-ahead outlook, the firm’s strategists said next year will be good for stocks, but the top isn’t far off after that. “We expect the global equity market to deliver a good performance in 2016, despite some volatility on the first Fed rate hikes, with an end to the bull market in H2 2017 ahead of the business cycle peak forecast for H2 2018,” SocGen wrote to clients.
- Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield services company, will cut more jobs in 2016. In a regulatory filing, the company said it would take a $350 million pre-tax restructuring charge in Q4 related to the layoffs, and didn’t specify how many they would be. The company has laid off up to 20,000 workers this year to cope with low oil prices. In its third-quarter earnings statement, the company said it was positioning for a delayed oil recovery.
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