After remaining relatively flat throughout the morning, the U.S. equity markets took a dive in the early afternoon and losses were only somewhat curbed by the end of the regular session. The day began mired in some gloomy economic news, but hope remained in the form of better-than-expected consumer sentiment. At the end of the day, evidence that economic headwinds and the expiration of the payroll tax holiday was hurting consumer spending took its toll.
At the close: DJIA: +0.06%, S&P 500: -0.10%, NASDAQ: -0.21%.
1) The Federal Reserve’s monthly index of industrial production unexpectedly declined in January, according to new data. The preliminary reading showed a contraction of 0.1 percent for the month, below consensus expectations for 0.2 percent growth. The index was dragged by manufacturing, which accounts for 75 percent of total production and contracted 0.4 percent.
The news was particularly hard-hitting because November and December posted such strong gains. Taken together, the two-month period yielded the highest industrial production since 1984, spurring hopes that broader economic recovery may be a reality instead of a hope. The automobile component also contracted for the month, but is expected to strengthen in the coming periods as the U.S. auto market continues to recover at a rapid pace… (Read more.)