US stocks pare gains but stay in black

The Dow was hanging on in positive territory towards the end of the trading session.

Although the S&P 500 has set a new record high today, the move higher hasn’t been particularly convincing, with the leading US indices moving closer to unchanged levels for the day into the last hour of trading on Wall Street.

With under an hour to the close, the Dow was up just 0.02% or 3 points at 15,573, while the S&P 500 was up 0.14% at 1762.2.

The momentum of the market the last few days has come from hopes of extended stimulus from the Fed, with recent economic data looking more than a little lacklustre. Today’s modest rise suggests caution is starting to come into play, with the FOMC convening tomorrow for the start of a two-day meeting in which committee members will discuss whether the economy is strong enough to justify a reduction in the size of the Fed’s monthly asset purchases.

Both pending home sales and manufacturing data failed to paint a picture of strength for the US economy today, with the pending home sales index declining 5.6% in September, and the manufacturing component of the industrial production report rising by just 0.1% last month.

We have more housing data tomorrow with the Case-Shiller home price index for August. Also released will be the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index for October. Consumer attitudes have been sliding lately, according to the University of Michigan’s index, so it will be interesting to see if the Conference Board’s data agrees.

Apple reports after the market closes tonight.

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