Wall Street kicked off June on a sluggish note on Wednesday, as investors sifted through a raft of manufacturing data from around the world.
Global manufacturing activity remained stuck in a rut last month with factory output from Asia, Europe and the Americas barely improving, surveys released on Wednesday showed.
But major US stock indexes recovered from steeper losses earlier in the session after a report showed US manufacturing grew for a third straight month in May, even as factories appeared to be taking in fewer deliveries from their suppliers. Stocks also rebounded as oil prices pared losses.
“The numbers are not bad; they’re just not good either,” said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank in Cleveland, Ohio. “We’re kind of trapped in limbo that way with respect to a lot of the fundamentals.”
The Dow Jones industrial average was falling 3.94 points, or 0.02 percent, at 17,783.26, the S&P 500 was gaining 1.63 points, or 0.08 percent, at 2,098.59 and the Nasdaq Composite was adding 9.06 points, or 0.18 percent, at 4,957.12.
US auto industry sales weakened in May, with General Motors, Ford Motor and other manufacturers reporting lower US vehicle sales. GM and Ford shares each were down about 3 percent.
Inflation pressures grew slightly across most of the United States from April to mid-May, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday in a report that could make the central bank more comfortable that inflation is on track to rise back to its 2 percent target as they consider whether to raise interest rates.
Investors are parsing through economic data, including Friday’s employment report, to gauge whether the Fed will raise rates as soon as its June 14-15 meeting. The Fed caught investors off guard last month when it signaled its next rate hike could be just weeks away.
The S&P 500 is coming off its third straight month of gains, its first such streak in two years. The benchmark index is up more than 2 percent in 2016 after a rough start to the year amid jitters about the global economy and volatility in the oil market.
On Wednesday, handbag maker Michael Kors rose 6.4 percent to $45.44 after posting its strongest quarterly sales growth in a year.
Demandware soared 55.9 percent to $74.80 after Salesforce.com agreed to buy the company in a $2.8 billion deal. Salesforce was down 0.2 percent.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,747 to 1,224, for a 1.43-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,702 issues rose and 1,081 fell for a 1.57-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 19 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 56 new highs and 19 new lows.