Stocks Close Mixed; Nasdaq Notches Up Strong Gains
After notching up solid gains this week, stocks started the trading session in the black. Investors are now satisfied with blaming any weaker than expected economic data on the weather with the idea that once the winter passes, the economy will bounce back. Today’s weaker than expected NY Manufacturing report was shrugged off by market bulls. The Nasdaq again was the best performer notching up a 0.68% gain while the Dow closed in the red.
The New York Fed’s Empire State general business conditions index fell to 4.48 from 12.51 the month before. Economists polled had expected a reading of 9.0. New orders fell to -0.21 from 10.98, while inventories fell to -5.00 from 2.44. Employment gauges were mixed. The index for the number of employees fell to 11.25 from 12.20 and the average employee workweek index rose to 3.75 from 1.22. The index of business conditions six months ahead rose to 38.99 in February from 37.51 in January.
Japanese stocks rallied on Tuesday, as the Bank of Japan continue to keep rates very accommodative. The Bank of Japan expanded their lending facilities that are designed to spur corporate investment by offering low-interest loans to commercial banks in the hope that they will lend the money to businesses. At a policy meeting, the BOJ also maintained its program of increasing the monetary base by 60-70 trillion yen a year. The boosting of the lending facilities comes after data yesterday showed that Q4 GDP growth slowed to a less-than-expected 0.3% on quarter from 0.5% in Q3.
German markets on the other hand were feeling headwinds generated by a worse than expected Zew Survey. The German ZEW survey of investor confidence has dropped to 55.7 in February from 61.7 in January and missed consensus that was also 61.7. However, the current situation reading increased dramatically to 50 from 41.2.
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