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‘Tug of war’ as investors digest mixed market messages

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Stock Markets27 minutes ago (Aug 03, 2021 01:26PM ET)

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(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective mask is seen inside the Shanghai Stock Exchange building, as the country is hit by a new coronavirus outbreak, at the Pudong financial district in Shanghai, China February 28, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

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By Lawrence Delevingne

BOSTON (Reuters) -U.S. stocks rose, 10-year Treasuries were flat and oil prices fell as markets assessed mixed signals from corporate earnings and economic growth data.

Wall Street’s main stock indexes were choppy in morning trading but turned positive by early afternoon, with gains from the likes of Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY).

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 165.11 points, or 0.47%, to 35,003.27, the S&P 500 gained 20.39 points, or 0.46%, to 4,407.55 and the Nasdaq Composite added 34.23 points, or 0.23%, to 14,715.30.

“The market is in a holding pattern and somewhat directionless, trying to sort out the tug of war between the delta variant and an economy ready to reach escape velocity,” said Aaron Clark, portfolio manager at $56 billion GW&K Investment Management in Boston.

Stronger-than-expected profit reports from U.S. companies in recent weeks have ratcheted up already high Wall Street forecasts on how second-quarter earnings growth will look versus last year.

Also positive: New orders for U.S.-made goods increased more than expected in June, while business spending on equipment was solid, pointing to sustained strength in manufacturing even as spending is shifting away from goods to services.

GW&K’s Clark said the market’s focus is now on “how extreme any measures to control delta spread might be,” but he thinks the concern will pass “and the economy, earnings and stocks will resume their upward trajectory.”

Investors also want to see July’s U.S. non-farm payroll numbers, due on Friday, following dovish commentary from Fed Chief Jerome Powell last week.

A hint came in payroll data that indicates U.S. hiring slowed in July – not held steady as widely expected – with particular softness among states that ended federal unemployment benefits and areas where the COVID-19 Delta variant is raging.

Traders left U.S. Treasury yields little changed on Tuesday as they awaited further indicators. The benchmark 10-year yield remained at 1.1738% early Tuesday afternoon, in line with the note’s steady march down from this year’s high yield of 1.776% reached March 30.

“If you go back a couple of months the concern about inflation was present everywhere but even in the United States now you don’t see the same sort of concerns,” said Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS)’s chief economic adviser, Reza Moghadam. “The issue now is growth.”

Oil extended its losses on Tuesday in volatile trade as concern over rising cases of the Delta coronavirus variant weighed on prices, sapping an earlier rally built on expectations for U.S. inventories to fall.

U.S. crude dropped 0.93% to $70.60 per barrel and Brent was at $72.46, down 0.59% on the day

Spot gold fell 0.2% to $1,810.11 an ounce. U.S. gold futures fell 0.48% to $1,809.40 an ounce.

The U.S. dollar languished again on Tuesday, particularly against the Swiss franc and Japanese yen, as questions about slowing economic growth and COVID-19 tempered risk appetite.

The dollar index rose 0.03%, with the euro down 0.03% to $1.1864.

‘Tug of war’ as investors digest mixed market messages

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