US Stocks Fluctuate After Economic Data Amid Greek Debt Talks

New York (Jun 1)  US stocks fluctuated as data on manufacturing and consumer spending showed an uneven rebound from the first-quarter slowdown, while investors watch for progress on Greek debt talks.

Intel Corp. dropped 1.6 percent after agreeing to buy Altera Corp. for $16.7 billion, weighing on technology shares. Altera jumped 6.1 percent. Software maker CA Inc. slipped 2 percent after an analyst downgrade. Raw-material and consumer staples companies fell as the dollar rallied.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 0.1 percent to 2,104.86 at 10:44 a.m. in New York, after earlier rising as much as 0.4 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 16.02 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,994.66. The Nasdaq Composite declined 0.3 percent.

“We had several economic numbers this morning that didn’t seem to be catalysts to push the market higher,” said Richard Sichel, chief investment officer at Philadelphia Trust Co., which oversees $2 billion. “When Greece is in the news, it’s typically negative. The messages we’ve been getting from the Fed recently also add to uncertainty, and that gives you a mixed market.”

Manufacturing expanded more than forecast in May as orders grew at the fastest pace in five months, indicating the industry is starting to emerge from a first-quarter slump. An earlier report showed consumer purchases unexpectedly stalled in April, raising the risk the biggest part of the economy may take time to gain momentum after a slow start to the year.

Stocks fell last week, trimming their biggest monthly gain since February, amid concerns about the strength of a rebound from a weak first quarter.

Monthly Gains

The S&P 500 climbed 1.1 percent in May, historically the second-worst month for U.S. equities, topped only by September. The index reached a record on May 21, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite Index also set fresh highs. Equities in May moved in the narrowest trading range in eight months on the weakest volume this year.

Stocks rose as data indicated the economy was settling into a moderate pace of growth after a first-quarter slump, with the Federal Reserve signaling any increase in borrowing costs would be shallow and gradual. Economists forecast the Fed will increase interest rates in September.

Eight of the S&P 500’s 10 main groups fell Monday, led by phone companies, raw-material and energy shares. The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index climbed 6.1 percent to 14.66. The gauge, known as the VIX, slipped 4.9 percent in May for its second straight monthly decline.

Source: Bloomberg