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The Dow Jones was up 0.35% or 52 points at 14,949 by early afternoon in New York, attempting to finish in positive territory for the first time in seven trading sessions, and the S&P 500 performed even better, climbing 0.69% to 1654.2.
The gains were driven by signs that manufacturing is picking up pace in several important economies, with higher PMI readings for August in China, the eurozone and the US. The US flash PMI crept up to 53.9 from July’s final level of 53.7, with new orders and employment being notable areas of strength.
US jobless claims increased last week, up 13,000 from the week prior, but the level of 336,000 still compares favourably to the levels seen over the course of last month, with the four-week moving average dropping to 330,500. So in spite of the number moving in the wrong direction, we can still expect August’s employment report to be solid.
The signs that Europe and China are stabilising will be a boost to US corporates that have a global reach and that’s helped to re-assure the market after a choppy trading session yesterday when the minutes from the last Fed meeting seemed to exacerbate the uncertainty surrounding the timing of stimulus tapering.
Shortly after midday in New York, all trading on the NASDAQ exchange was halted because of an equity securities processor glitch. By 1.30pm New York (6.30pm BST) there were reports from Dow Jones news that the NASDAQ was expected to resume shortly.