By Carlos Guillen
Equity markets had a rather encouraging start to today's trading session as positive indicators of economic growth overseas enthused investors at the start of trading; however, mixed data from here at home coupled with resurging signs of Fed tapering have taken away most of that early oomph that stocks demonstrated at the opening bell.
With very little in terms of home grown economic data out today, factory orders are serving to shed some light on the direction of the U.S. economy, and the results were rather mixed. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, new orders for manufactured goods during September increased month-over-month by 1.7 percent to $490.8 billion, a bit worse than the Street's consensus estimate calling for a 1.8 percent month-over-month rise. Concurrently, new orders for consumer goods declined by 0.1 percent, after decreasing by 0.4 percent in the prior month, and non-defense capital goods (excluding aircraft) declined by 1.3 percent, after increasing by 1.0 percent in the prior month. These orders are considered a proxy for future business investment in items such as computers, engines and communications gear, so the most recent decline does not bode well for third quarter gross domestic product growth.
Over in the euro zone, the Markit manufacturing purchasing managers' index rose to 51.3 from 51.1 in September, above the 50 threshold that separates expansion from contraction. The more encouraging aspect of the data was that most members demonstrate improvements particularly in Spain and Italy.
In addition, over in China, the country's official non-manufacturing purchasing managers' index rose to 56.3 in October, marking a 14-month high and followed faster-than-estimated growth in two manufacturing indexes last week.
Fed officials are also shaking markets, as a number of them have made some mixed comments. Bullard told CNBC that the Federal Reserve did not have to be in a hurry to pare its $85 billion-a-month in bond purchases, because inflation is low. On the other hand, Bullard also made several comments that suggest a taper could come soon. Also, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher suggested that tapering of bond buys could come sooner than expected, and that fiscal risks shouldn't stop the Fed from doing what is right for the economy.
So despite the rather erratic trading actions so far today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is entering winning territory, but this could be short lived given continuing discussions of Fed tapering today.
By David Urani
Today we got the JP Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI index, a measure of manufacturing activity around the world. It doesn't yet get the same fanfare as the US ISM manufacturing index, but perhaps that's natural given that it's a new series (started last year), and also quite ambitious you have to say given that it attempts to compile data from all across the world.
And with that, the headline reading came in at 52.1 for October, up from 51.8 in September. That makes for a two and a half year high for world manufacturing activity. PMI growth for the US, Europe, China, Japan and the UK all helped to lift the index. While 52.1 isn't necessarily high (a reading of 50 is the threshold between growth and contraction), it goes to show that after a long battle global growth appears to be back on track, particularly for Europe which has struggled to get out of its hole. The UK was growing at the fastest pace for all the nations tracked, helping to make up for the one-year low for the US. There was also Japan, who has been on an aggressive bout of government spending and hit a 41-month high.