REUTERS/Hazir RekaA U.S. soldier, part of a NATO peace force, places barbed wire on his Humvee during a protest in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica.
Stocks closed lower, but little changed. By closing lower, the S&P 500 and Dow failed to make another record high.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 16,937.26, -9.8, (-0.06%)
- S&P 500: 1,962.61, -0.2, (-0.01%)
- Nasdaq: 4,368.68, +0.6, (0.01%)
And now, the biggest stories of the day:
- The biggest news of the day was Markit’s U.S. flash PMI for June, which showed that U.S. manufacturing activity is at its highest level since May 2010. Markit’s Chris Williamson said the report showed, “U.S. industry is booming again.” Williamson added, “The strong reading also rounds off the best quarter for factories for four years, adding to indications that the U.S. economy rebounded strongly in the second quarter from the weather-related weakness seen at the start of the year. The survey data suggest that GDP should be set to rise by at least 3.0% after the 1.0% decline in the first quarter.”
- Housing data also came in better than expected, with existing home sales in May rising 4.9% over the prior month against the 1.9% rise expected by economists. This was the highest monthly rise since August 2011. Following the report, Cooper Howes of Barclays said, “The improvement relative to April was driven entirely by the single family component, which climbed to an annualized pace of 4.30mn sales (previous: 4.07mn) while condo and co-op sales were unchanged at 0.59mn. This is the strongest pace of sales since October 2013 and reinforces our expectation of a pickup in housing activity in the second half of the year following a soft Q1 that was affected by unusually severe winter weather. The composition of purchases suggests that the housing market has continued to stabilise in recent months as the share of distressed sales fell 4pp to 11% and remains well below its year-ago level of 18%.”
- In Germany and France, Markit’s flash PMI reports disappointed. Germany’s composite PMI for June came in at 54.2 against a prior reading of 55.6, while the composite PMI reading in France came in at 48.0 against a prior reading of 49.3, signaling contraction in the French economy. As BI’s Joe Weisenthal noted following the reports from Europe, the continent’s economies are now split, with “core” economies like Germany and France sputtering, while peripheral economies that were hit hardest during the Eurozone crisis are showing relative strength.
- In corporate news, there were three major merger announcements today, headlined by France-based Alstom’s acceptance of General Electric’s bid for its Power and Grid businesses. In the utility sector, Wisconsin Energy announced a deal to acquire Integrys Energy for $US9.1 billion to create a combined company that is expected to have more than 4.3 million total gas and electric customers in the midwest. Oracle also said it would buy MICROS Systems for $US4.6 billion.
- The lack of volatility continues to be a major theme on Wall Street, with market watchers noting that the daily trading range over the last two sessions is among the narrowest in the last twenty years. BI’s Linette Lopez also noted that this chart, which shows the decline in employees at brokerage services, is part of why so many on Wall Street seem so miserable.
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