Rally continues unimpeded by mixed data

Stocks are on course for another weekly gain despite questions over economic growth.

Macro-economic data hasn’t been encouraging this week, a pattern that continued today with news of a surprise decline in December’s industrial production index, offset to some degree by consumer sentiment holding steady.

Manufacturing looks to be the latest area of the economy that appears to have been hindered by adverse weather. The manufacturing component of the Fed’s industrial production index fell 0.8% in December, confounding expectations for a rise, as overall industrial production declined 0.3%.

These numbers will do little to alter perceptions that we are looking at soft first-quarter growth for the US economy. With the Fed now saying that they are looking at a wider cross-section of data points than just employment, it does pose a potential challenge to the Fed’s assertions that further measured reductions are the most likely outcome for their programme of quantitative easing.

The first reading for February of the University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment came in at 81.2, unchanged from January’s final level, but up 0.8 from the previous mid-month reading. This was a better-than-expected result, and given how February’s weather has been at least as bad as January, this is no mean thing.

Stocks have climbed steadily throughout the day in New York, with the Dow pushing up 0.56% or 90 points by early afternoon, while the S&P 500 gained 0.38% to stay on target for a second successive weekly gain.

Similarly to yesterday, while the stock market has remain untarnished by the day’s weak data (yesterday this was soft retail sales, today it is manufacturing) the dollar has taken a knock, slipping against all the major currencies. EUR/USD advanced 0.14% while Cable rose 0.47%.

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