Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

US stocks up but Nasdaq glitch halts trading

The US stock market rose yesterday, but it was a glitch on the Nasdaq exchange that became the day's big talking point.

Trading on the Nasdaq was interrupted just after midday because of problems with a quote dissemination system. That halted activity on the Nasdaq until shortly before the close of the market.

When trading resumed, shares in Nasdaq OMX, which owns and operates the exchange, slumped.

The Nasdaq composite was up 31 points, or 0.9%, at 3,631 when trading halted, according to FactSet data. It ended the day up 38 points, or 1.1%, at 3,638.71.

Earlier yesterday, encouraging economic figures from Asia and Europe helped stocks advance and break a six-day losing streak for the Dow Jones industrial average.

In China, a survey by HSBC indicated that manufacturing was expanding, the latest evidence that the world's second-largest economy may be over its recent period of weakness.

In Europe, a survey of manufacturing and services for the 17 countries that use the euro climbed to its highest level since June 2011.

"Europe seems to be getting its swing back, especially Germany," said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at ING US Investment Management.

The figures "are not super exciting, but directionally they are good".

The stock market has had a poor August. Traders and investors have worried that the Federal Reserve is about to start easing back on the economic stimulus that has helped underpin a four-year bull market.

The Fed is buying 85 billion dollars (£54 billion) of bonds a month to hold down long-term interest rates.

The Dow climbed 66 points, or 0.4%, to close at 14,963.74. The index is still down 3.5% for the month.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 14 points, or 0.9%, to 1,656.96, its best day since August 1.

Investors also got some encouraging news on the US economy.

A gauge of the economy's health rose in July, pointing to stronger growth in the second half of the year. The Conference Board's index of leading indicators increased 0.6% last month to a reading of 96.

The index was unchanged in June and rose 0.2% in May.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week but remains close to its lowest level in more than five years.

"The economy in general is showing signs of modest improvement," said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist, at US Bank wealth management.

"Valuation is fair, sentiment is favourable and inflation is benign and that's a favourable backdrop for equities."

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