After briefly touching positive territory early in the morning, the U.S. equity markets struggled with losses all day to end in the red across the board. Slower than expected manufacturing growth offset strong gains in construction spending.
At the close: DJIA: -0.04%, S&P 500: -0.45%, NASDAQ: -0.87%.
On the commodities front, WTI crude oil (NYSEARCA:USO) fell 0.34 percent to $96.90 per barrel. The yield on the 10-year T-note fell 0.014 points to 1.836 percent. Gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) futures for June delivery, the most active contract, gained $5.20 to close at $1,600.90 per ounce, while silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) futures for May fell 38 cents to finish at $27.94.
Gold climbed higher as the U.S. dollar index retreated from multi-month highs. The expansion of the manufacturing sector was slower than expected last month. The Institute for Supply Management’s index of national factory activity dropped to 51.3 in March, compared to 54.2 in the previous month. A reading below 50 indicates contraction. U.S. Steel Corp. (NYSE:X) fell 4.0 percent on the news.