Stocks meander on Wall St, despite strong factory data

US share prices have wavered without any clear direction today, with better-than-expected manufacturing reports failing to entice buyers at the stock market’s current lofty levels.

By early afternoon in New York, the Dow Jones had slipped back 0.12% or 18 points to 16,067, while the more extensive S&P 500 index rose 0.08% to 1807.2. The NASDAQ 100 dropped 0.04% to 3486.4.

Economic data continues to paint a picture of steady recovery, with a number of reports released today suggesting expansion in the US manufacturing sector.

Markit’s manufacturing Purchasing Managing Index climbed to a mid-month reading of 54.7 for November from October’s final level of 51.8. Readings above 50 for the PMI denotes expansion, and so the data suggests growth is picking up pace. With the new orders component surging to 56.2, there is evidence to suggest momentum may be carried into December.

The pick-up in Markit’s PMI now means that there is agreement with the other widely-followed manufacturing indicator, namely the ISM manufacturing index, which also improved last month, rising to a two-and-a-half year-high of 57.3 from October’s already buoyant level of 56.4. The new orders component in this index jumped 3 points to 63.3, also the best level seen in two-and-a half years.

The strength of the manufacturing reports gave a boost to the US dollar today, with USD/JPY jumping 0.65% and EUR/USD sinking 0.38%. The dollar index, a gauge of the dollar’s strength against a basket of six leading currencies, rose 0.32%.

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