Thursday Afternoon Cheat Sheet: 3 Stories That Moved Markets

The markets were mixed on Thursday. Positive economic indicators and a lingering sigh of relief from yesterday’s debt-ceiling vote in the House helped pull the S&P into positive territory alongside the Dow. The Nasdaq ended the day in the red, largely because of tremendous losses from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).

At the close: DJIA: +0.33%, S&P 500: +0.04%, NASDAQ: -0.74%.

Here are three stories that helped shape markets today:jobs

1) Initial unemployment claims dropped 1.5 percent to 330,000 for the week ended January 19, the lowest rate in five years. The four-week moving average dropped 2.3 percent to 351,750, and is approaching pre-crisis levels.

The drop in claims for the week was unexpected, and taken with strong growth in manufacturing activity adds good news to a growing list of positive economic signs. The Purchasing Managers Index for manufacturing rose to 56.1, indicating growth momentum. New jobs in manufacturing are being created at the fastest pace in nine months, and new orders have climbed to their highest levels in two years…

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Injured Piggy Bank WIth Crutches2) The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the United States, which includes 10 component indicators, such as unemployment claims, manufacturing orders, the S&P 500 index, interest rate spreads, and consumer sentiment, increased 0.5 percent in December to 93.9, a sharp gain relative to historic changes.

“The latest data suggest that a pickup in domestic growth is now more likely, compared to a few months ago,” said Ken Goldstein, an economist at the Conference Board, in a statement. As a composite index of already broad indicators, the LEI can be used to form general expectations for future economic conditions. Changes in the LEI tend to precede movement in the economy.

As a lead-in, the index for China grew 0.4 percent for the same period…

3) The Flash China Manufacturing PMI hit a 24-month high of 51.9 in January, a 0.04 point gain on December. This indicates growth momentum and, combined with the increase in China’s LEI, calls for strength from China’s economy are likely to be answered.

Hongbin Qu, a chief economist at HSBC, commented: “Despite the still tepid external demand, the domestic-driven restocking process is likely to add steam to China’s ongoing recovery in the coming months.”

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