US stock markets closed mostly lower Thursday as investors digested a flood of economic data a day after a huge rally sparked by coordinated central bank action against the eurozone crisis.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 25.65 points (0.21 per cent) to 12,020.03.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 5.86 points (0.22 per cent) to 2,626.20, while the S&P 500, a broader measure of the markets, slipped 2.37 points (0.19 per cent) to 1,244.58.
“More than a few buyers opted to sit on the sidelines today, taking a breather in the wake of Wednesday’s surge and ahead of tomorrow’s highly anticipated nonfarm payrolls report,” said Andrea Kramer at Schaeffer’s Investment Research.
On Wednesday the Dow rocketed 4.2 per cent and the S&P 500 4.3 per cent after major central banks joined hands to protect Europe’s commercial banks from lending market turmoil in the eurozone crisis.
But the news also underlined the precarious situation in the eurozone, as leaders still wrestle to come up with a comprehensive solution to the huge debt-and-deficit problems facing a number of countries.
Official Chinese data showing manufacturing activity in the world’s second-largest economy shrank in November for the first time in nearly three years also raised concerns about slowing global growth.
Kramer said a mixed bag of economic data kept US stocks near the breakeven line.
A better-than-expected read on the US manufacturing sector for November was countered by an unexpected rise in new weekly claims for unemployment insurance.
Most economists expected the Labor Department data will show the unemployment rate in November stuck at 9.0 per cent for the second consecutive month.
The technology sector resisted the downturn, led especially by Apple, which rose 1.5 per cent after a JPMorgan upgrade.
Yahoo rose 3.3 per cent on intensifying rumors of a deal to sell all or part of the company, while Blackberry maker Research in Motion gained 4.0 per cent.
Automaker shares fell after reporting robust sales for November. General Motors dropped 1.5 per cent after posting a seven per cent increase from a year ago, while Ford edged down 0.1 per cent on a 13.3 per cent sales jump.
Hewlett-Packard added 1.0 per cent despite its rating downgrade to BBB+ from A by Standard & Poor’s after the market closed on Wednesday.
The bond market fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.12 per cent from 2.07 per cent on Wednesday, while the 30-year yield climbed to 3.14 per cent from 3.06 per cent.
Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.