Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange February 8, 2019. — Reuters pic
NEW YORK, March 15 — Wall Street edged slightly higher at the open today, with US stocks poised to post gains for the week as investors were comforted by continued US-China trade negotiations.
The upward momentum came despite plunging economic data for the US manufacturing sector, which economists say is suffering as China’s economy slows.
The New York Federal Reserve Bank’s survey of regional manufacturing activity fell to its lowest level in about two years as orders and shipments dropped.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve also reported that nationwide US manufacturing had fallen sharply for the second month in a row — with across-the-board declines in nearly every category of product.
About 10 minutes into the day’s trading, the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average added less than a tenth of a percentage point to 25,721.16.
The broader S&P 500 was up 0.2 per cent to 2,813.38 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq posted stronger 0.3 per cent gain.
Shares in Boeing were down another 1.2 per cent as the company halted deliveries of its top-selling 737 MAX aircraft following Sunday’s fatal crash in Ethiopia, the second deadly accident in less than five months.
Analyst Patrick O’Hare of Briefing.com said some buying enthusiasm could be due to expiring options.
“Some are ascribing today’s bullish bias to today’s quadruple witching, which involves the quarterly expiration of index futures, index options, stock options, and single-stock futures,” O’Hare wrote.
“It’s an esoteric reason, but one that has had legs all week as a reported market driver.”
Meanwhile, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported “substantial progress” occurred in during a phone call between trade enjoy Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.