Stocks on Wall Street were higher at midday as the second quarter began with the S&P 500 index hitting a record high. The Nasdaq, however, was the early leader and remains the session’s best performer with an advance of about 1%. Manufacturing data from around the globe pointed to expansion in the U.S. and Europe last month, though the picture in China was clouded by conflicting surveys.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., Markit’s final print for the March manufacturing PMI held steady at 55.5, which was down from February’s 57.1 reading and below expectations for it to have been bumped up to 56.0. ISM’s manufacturing PMI for March inched up to 53.7 from February’s 53.2 reading, though that was a hair below the consensus 53.9 forecast. Construction spending rose 0.1% in February, as expected. In Asia, China’s official manufacturing PMI climbed to 50.3 in March, beating expectations for a modest decline to 50.1. Markit and HSBC’s PMI reading, however, fell to an eight-month low of 48.0. In Europe, the final euro zone manufacturing PMI for the month was unchanged from a flash estimate of 53.0, extending the recovery in the region’s manufacturing sector to a ninth straight month.
COMPANY NEWS: General Motors (GM), which has been a constant source of headlines of late due to its ongoing recall problems, reported that its March U.S. sales report has been delayed due to a computer systems issue that impacted dealer reporting. The company, whose CEO Mary Barra is on Capitol Hill today to give testimony about the automaker’s handling of ignition switch issues linked to 13 deaths, said it expects to report its sales this afternoon before the close of business.. MAJOR
MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was Rubicon (RBCN), which rose 13% after the stock was upgraded to Overweight at JPMorgan citing a pick-up in demand for LEDs and sapphire covers. Also higher was Arrowhead Research (ARWR), which rose 12% after the company announced that the first cohort of 8 patients has been fully enrolled and dosed in a Phase 2a clinical trial of its RNAi therapeutic for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus infection.