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FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, file photo, trader Dudley Devine uses his mobile phone as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. A contraction in Chinese manufacturing and the possibility of higher U.S. interest rates dragged global stock markets lower Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Stocks flat after U.S. data offset China weakness
First Published Feb 20 2014 08:31 am • Last Updated Feb 20 2014 08:31 am

New York » Stocks were little changed in early trading Thursday after a survey showed that U.S. manufacturing expanded at the fastest pace in almost four years. The report helped offset weak Chinese manufacturing data.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell one point, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,827 as of 10:09 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell nine points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 16,023. The Nasdaq composite dropped five points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,232.

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MADE IN THE USA: Manufacturing in the U.S. expanded at the fastest pace in almost four years in February, according to a private survey by Markit. The survey showed a strong rebound after a slowdown in January. The Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing index rose to 56.7 from 53.7 in January. Numbers above 50 show activity increasing.

CHINA SLOWDOWN: The results from the U.S. survey contrasted with a survey of manufacturing in China, where manufacturing contracted for a second straight month in February. The preliminary version of the HSBC Corp. purchasing managers’ index fell to a seven-month low of 48.3 from 49.5 in January.

FACEBOOK DEAL: Facebook slipped $1.85, or 2.7 percent, to $66.24 after the world’s biggest social network announced a $19 billion purchase of the popular messaging service WhatsApp late Wednesday. Wall Street analysts had mixed feelings about the deal and the price that Facebook paid.

EARNINGS JOLT: Tesla Motors jumped $18.46, or 9.5 percent, to $212.40 in premarket trading after the electric car maker delivered a strong fourth-quarter performance late Wednesday and said it expects the company’s vehicle sales to rise sharply this year.

WAL-MART OUTLOOK: Wal-Mart Stores fell $1.83, or 2.4 percent, to $73.02 after the company offered a weak profit outlook, signaling that it expects economic pressures to keep weighing on its low-income shoppers around the world. The world’s largest retailer also said Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit, which covers the crucial holiday season, dropped 21 percent.

BONDS, COMMODITIES: The yield on the 10-year note was little changed from Wednesday at 2.74 percent. The price of oil fell 8 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $102.77. The price of gold fell $5.90, or 0.5 percent, to $1,314.50 an ounce.




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