If there were any surprises in the market on Thursday, it was only at how mildly tepid the economic news was. Producer prices were up a bit, Philly manufacturing was somewhat better, jobless claims looked fair to middling, and the market yawned.
Stocks were mixed at market close, with the Dow Jones industrial average up 22.10 points, 0.21% higher, at 10,594.83. The S&P 500 was down 0.41 points, 0.04% lower, at 1,124.66. The Nasdaq index closed up 1.93 points, 0.08% higher, at 2,303.25.
The producer price index rose 0.4% in August after a 0.2% increase in July, the U.S. Labor Department reported. The increase, which was the PPI’s first upward movement in three months, was due largely to a 2.2% rise in energy prices.
“We are quite relieved by these numbers; we worried that higher energy prices would generate an even bigger rise in the headline and that the core was vulnerable to upside risk too,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics Ltd., in Valhalla, New York, in an analyst note. “Indeed, over the next few months we do expect core PPI to accelerate from its current 1.3% year-on-year rate, reflecting the rebound in core raw materials prices a year ago. For now, though, the numbers are benign.”
The Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing index was minus 0.7 in September, well above August’s minus 7.7 reading but still in negative territory. Economists had expected the reading to turn positive, which would have shown an expansion in activity.
Weekly jobless claims dropped, meanwhile, as the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits for the first time fell. Initial claims fell by 3,000 to 450,000 in the week ended September 11, the lowest level in two months, the Labor Department reported.