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Wall Street flat as energy offsets weak data, earnings

Posted by: Admin | Posted on: April 23rd, 2015 | 0 Comments

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks were little changed on Thursday as soft U.S., European and Chinese data, alongside disappointing earnings forecasts, were offset by gains in energy stocks as oil futures rose.

A slight but unexpected rise in U.S. applications for unemployment insurance also pressured equity futures lower, while growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector dipped more than expected in April.

Business activity slowed more than expected in the euro zone this month while manufacturing in Asia’s top two economies hit the brakes, suggesting the global recovery path is less clear than policymakers are predicting.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 295,000 for the week ended April 18, above the forecast of 290,000.

The fall in European stock markets and the weaker PMI numbers across the board had dragged futures lower on Wall Street according to Donald Ellenberger, head of multisector strategies at Federated Investors in Pittsburgh.

The unexpected tick up in weekly jobless claims “did add a bit to the weaker picture,” he said.

The data and earnings-related weakness was offset by a more than 1 percent advance in the SP 500 energy sector .SPNY.

Both Brent LCOc1 and U.S. crude CLc1 futures rose more than 2 percent on heightened concerns over the security of Middle East supplies as a civil war escalated in Yemen.

At 10:06 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 20.92 points, or 0.12 percent, at 18,017.35, the SP 500 .SPX was up 0.21 points, or 0.01 percent, at 2,108.17 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 1.01 points, or 0.02 percent, to 5,036.18.

PepsiCo (PEP.N), Procter Gamble (PG.N) and 3M (MMM.N) all blamed the strong dollar for missing estimates or cutting forecasts. PG fell 1.7 percent to $81.61, 3M fell 2.9 percent to $159.69 and Pepsi was down 1.4 percent at $95.91.

Facebook (FB.O) gained 0.4 percent to $84.99 a day after the company’s profit narrowly beat estimates.

General Motors (GM.N) shares dropped 2.9 percent to $36.06 after the automaker’s revenue also fell short.

PulteGroup (PHM.N) shares slid 6 percent to $20.38 after the homebuilder reported a surprise fall in quarterly profit.

Texas Instruments (TXN.O) slumped 7.5 percent to $54.30 a day after it forecast current-quarter revenue below analysts’ expectations, citing weak demand and a strong dollar. Shares of other chipmakers .SOX also fell.

Earnings expected after the bell include Amazon (AMZN.O), Microsoft (MSFT.O) and Google (GOOGL.O).

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,771 to 988, for a 1.79-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,316 issues fell and 1,075 advanced for a 1.22-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The benchmark SP 500 index was posting 15 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 42 new highs and 19 new lows.

(Additional reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Savio D’Souza)

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