US avoids global equity slump on solid economic data

3 April, 2016 12:00 AM printer

NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks defied the norm Friday, rising while overseas bourses tumbled, following solid US jobs and manufacturing data.
The S&P 500’s 0.6 percent gain stood out compared with sizeable declines in most of the stock markets in Europe and Asia following dismal Japanese economic data and a drop in oil prices, reports AFP.
“Given the underwhelming investment options around the world, if you want to invest in an equities market (Wall Street) remains one of the better places to be,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities.
“Our economy here in the US continues to be better than the majority of worldwide economies.”
Japan opened the day on a sour note with the Bank of Japan’s quarterly Tankan report of 10,000 manufacturing firms showing sentiment plunging to the worst level since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe put his growth drive fully into action in 2013. “It’s become clear that the economy is weakening,” said Kohei Iwahara, director of economic research at Natixis Japan Securities, one of several analysts to predict more aggressive action from Japanese policy makers. Oil prices fell about four percent after Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, suggested to Bloomberg News that the kingdom would freeze output only if the move is mirrored by Iran and other major oil producers.
The Nikkei tumbled 3.6 percent, while Frankfurt and Paris ended down more than one percent. London slid 0.5 percent. But Friday’s economic news in the United States was good. The Labor Department said the US economy added a better-than-expected 215,000 jobs in March in a report that also showed a modest pickup in hourly wages.
That was followed by a report from the Institute for Supply Management showing its purchasing managers index for the manufacturing sector jumped 2.3 percentage points from February to 51.8 in March, above the threshold of 50 between growth and contraction.
“The data should lessen fears that ‘global economic and financial developments’—GEFD—will cause overall US growth to slow significantly,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics.
Automakers retreated as weaker-than-expected US auto sales suggested the multi-year boom in the world’s biggest economy may be ending. Toyota fell 3.0 percent, Daimler 2.2 percent and General Motors 3.1 percent.
Tesla Motors rose 3.4 percent following a launch event of its Model 3 electric car after which founder Elon Musk said the company had received 198,000 pre-orders for the vehicle. The car is scheduled to hit the market late next year.
Petroleum-linked stocks fell with oil prices, with BP shedding 1.8 percent, France’s Total 3.2 percent and US giant Chevron 1.2 percent.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts lost 4.9 percent as the bidding war over the chain ended with the consortium led by China’s Anbang withdrawing a $14 billion offer late Thursday. That left Starwood free to merge with Marriott International, which fell 5.7 percent.