US Stocks Flat Ahead Of Key Manufacturing Data
First Published Tuesday, 1st May 2012 02:03 pm - © 2012 Dow Jones
--Stocks flat ahead of manufacturing activity data
--April manufacturing activity expected to expand more slowly than March
--Most Europe markets closed for May Day holiday; U.K.'s FTSE 100 gains
By Chris Dieterich and Tomi Kilgore
OF Dow Jones NEWSWIRES
NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Stocks were flat ahead of closely watched reading on domestic manufacturing activity and amid a raft of mixed corporate earnings reports.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1 points, or 0.1%, to 13211. The Dow gained ground on the first trading day of each of the last four months.
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index tacked on 1 point, or 0.1%, to 1399 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 2 points, or 0.1%, to 3048.
Health-care stocks were the S&P 500's biggest drag. Pfizer slipped 1.1% after the drug maker's first-quarter earnings fell 19% as the pharmaceutical giant reported its first full quarter since its blockbuster cholesterol drug, Lipitor, lost market exclusivity last year. The company lowered its full-year earnings outlook to adjust for the pending sale of its nutrition unit.
Bank of America rose 0.4% after The Wall Street Journal reported that the banking giant has plans to cut about 2,000 jobs in its investment banking, commercial banking and non-U.S. wealth-management units, citing people familiar with the matter.
In economic news, a closely watched reading on domestic manufacturing activity is still on tap. The Institute of Supply Management's purchasing managers index, constructed from surveys from more than 300 manufacturing firms, is due for release at 10 a.m. EDT. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expected the PMI to slip to 52.9 in April from 53.4 in March. That would indicated manufacturing activity is still expanding, but at a slower rate than the previous month.
Data on construction spending is also due at 10 a.m.
Chrysler Group LLC's U.S. auto sales rose 20% in April as the auto maker saw particular strength among cars and at its namesake brand. Results from the Detroit auto maker, which is majority owned by Italy's Fiat SpA, beat expectations from car-shopping website Edmunds.com. General Motors and Ford Motor are expected to report April sales later Tuesday.
European markets were steady in light trading, with the Stoxx Europe 600 up less then 0.1%. Most markets were closed for the May Day holiday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 firmed 0.4% despite a weaker-than-expected reading on the manufacturing sector. The purchasing managers index fell to 50.5 in April from 51.9, below forecasts for a slight increase to 52.
Asian markets were mixed. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rallied 0.8% to close at a nine-month high after the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its key lending rate 0.50 percentage point to 3.75%. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average slumped 1.8% as the yen's strength weighed on exporter shares.
Crude-oil futures eased 0.2% to $104.66 a barrel, while gold futures ticked up 0.3% to $1,669.40 a troy ounce. The U.S. dollar lost ground against both the euro and the yen. The yield on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes rose to 1.915%.
In other corporate news, Imperial Sugar shot up 56% after Louis Dreyfus Commodities agreed to buy the company in a cash deal that values the Texas-based sugar processor at about $78 million.
Agco rose 6.6% after the company's first-quarter earnings rose 50% as the agricultural-equipment maker's sales were buoyed by acquisitions and sales growth in Europe and North America.
WMS Industries slid 6% after the maker of slot machines and lottery terminals reported fiscal third-quarter results that missed analyst forecasts, with new unit sales revenue declining from year ago levels.
Avon Products fell 3.5% after reporting first-quarter earnings that were below expectation, with costs rising and operating margin declining. The stock was still inactive ahead of the open.
Office Depot fell 0.3% after North American retail same-store sales fell in the first quarter, but the company swung to a first-quarter profit thanks to a large settlement.
-By Chris Dieterich, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2611; email@example.com