Stocks Off To A Wobbly Start As Manufacturing Data Bolster Mood | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis

XAutoplay: On | OffStocks opened to narrow gains, then turned mixed Thursday, as strong manufacturing and jobs data, mixed earnings news helped set the early tone.

The Dow Jones industrial average opened higher, then dipped 0.1%. The Nasdaq managed a 0.1% gain, while the S&P 500 reversed to a fractional decline.

The appointment late Wednesday of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the inquiry into Russia’s possible tampering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election salved the general mood in Washington, D.C.

Philly Fed, Jobless Claims Top Expectations

Manufacturing in the mid-Atlantic region spiked in May, according to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s May Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey. The index shot to a reading of 38.8, up from 22 in April and a tenth straight month of expansion. Manufacturing activity and shipments rose sharply, the report said, although new orders and the current employment index slipped.

First-time unemployment claims fell to 232,000 in the week ended May 13, the Labor Department said. That was down from 236,000 claims in the prior week and well below economist expectations for an increase to 240,000 claims. The four-week moving average shrunk to 240,750, down from 243,500.

Early Movers: Cisco, Wal-Mart, Incyte, Alibaba

Blue chips were active and very mixed in opening trade. Cisco Systems (CSCO) dived 10% at teh starting bell, easily the worst move among the Dow industrials. The networking software and gear leader reported mixed fiscal third-quarter results late Wednesday.

Wal-Mart (WMT) muscled up more than 2% amid the selling. Its first-quarter results were also mixed, but a 63% spike in online sales cheered investors. The gain lifted shares to 1% below their May 9 high.

Apple (AAPL) added 1.3%, climbing off lows after dropped more than 3% on Wednesday.

Alibaba Group Holding (BABA) dropped 3% on mixed fiscal fourth-quarter results. China’s online retailing giant reported a 37% earnings gain, below…

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