Happy sequestration day! The U.S. equity markets overcame early losses, international economic headwinds, and the ticking time-bomb that is the sequester to post fractional gains on Friday. News that manufacturing growth in China slowed down and unemployment in Europe edged up was counterbalanced by an increase in domestic consumer sentiment and manufacturing output.
At the close: DJIA: +0.25%, S&P 500: +0.25%, NASDAQ: +0.30%.
1) The United States experienced the strongest rise in manufacturing output in nearly a year in February, according to the Purchasing Managers Index report compiled by Markit. The output component of the index increased from 56.8 to 57.3, indicating expansion at an accelerating rate. Output prices also increased slightly, from 53.3 to 53.5. (Any reading above 50 on the PMI index indicates growth, where a reading lower than 50 indicates contraction.)
However, the increase in the output component contrasted with a drop in the overall index, from 55.8 in January to 53.3 in February, indicating overall expansion in manufacturing, but at a slower rate. This was led by a drop and change in direction in the new export orders component, which fell from 51.5 to 48.5 for the period, and stock purchases, which fell from 51.5 to 49.5.