June 1, 2020 / 3:56 PM / a month ago

US STOCKS-Wall St flat as recovery hopes offset U.S. protests, China tensions

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* Target, Walmart shut stores as U.S. protests turn violent

* Coty rises after appointing Chairman Peter Harf as CEO

* Indexes: Dow and S&P flat, Nasdaq up 0.32% (Adds comment, details; updates prices)

By Devik Jain

June 1 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks struggled for direction on Monday as investors weighed prospects of a post-pandemic economic recovery against protests across the country over race and an ongoing standoff between Washington and Beijing.

U.S. manufacturing activity eased off an 11-year low in May, an Institute for Supply Management (ISM) survey showed, the strongest sign yet that the worst of the economic downturn was behind as businesses reopen.

The S&P 500’s 38% rebound since late March has been underpinned by hopes that the global economy would recover from the coronavirus-led downturn as countries start to ease lockdowns.

“The data is showing a pickup in demand which is a key driver for markets going forward,” said Anik Sen, global head of equities, PineBridge Investments.

“The market is reacting somewhat to the rioting and U.S. and China tensions, but it’s only at the margin.”

National Guard troops were deployed over the weekend in 15 states and Washington, D.C. in an attempt to quell a sixth night of violence that began with peaceful protests over the death of a black man, George Floyd, in police custody.

Target Corp and Walmart Inc closed stores during the unrest that included looting in many cities. Target shares fell 2.1% while Walmart was marginally higher.

Further denting the sentiment, reports said China had told state-owned firms to halt agricultural purchases from the United States after Washington said it would eliminate special treatment for Hong Kong to punish Beijing.

At 11:33 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 8.31 points, or 0.03%, at 25,391.42, the S&P 500 was up 1.61 points, or 0.05%, at 3,045.92. The Nasdaq Composite was up 29.94 points, or 0.32%, at 9,519.82.

Real estate and financials led eight of the 11 major S&P sectors higher.

Pfizer Inc fell 8.5% after the drugmaker said the late-stage trial of its breast cancer drug Ibrance was unlikely to meet the main goal of study.

Gilead Sciences Inc fell 4.3% after its antiviral drug remdesivir had mixed results in a late stage study of people with moderate COVID-19, as patients given a five-day course of the treatment showed statistically significant improvement, while those given it for 10-days did not.

Coty Inc jumped 20% after the cosmetics company appointed Chairman Peter Harf as its new chief executive officer.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.93-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.87-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 17 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 65 new highs and eight new lows. (Reporting by Devik Jain and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Anil D’Silva)

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