Global shares weak after U.S. data, but oil rebounds
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock markets around the world were volatile on Thursday, with U.S. stocks closing lower following weak data on factory activity, the latest in a series of indicators pointing to weak growth, while Europe ended near the lowest levels of the year.
Early U.S. stock trading indicated a rebound following a steep decline in Wednesday's session, but shares turned lower following the data. Crude oil rebounded, though it remains sharply lower on the week.
With the decline, U.S. shares extended their drop on the week and the S&P broke under its 50-day moving average for the first time this year, a signal that the market's uptrend could be in peril. The S&P 500 is on pace to post its worst week since June 2012, though it remains up 8.1 percent for 2013.
Growth in factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region unexpectedly slowed in April, according to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, the latest in a series of data pointing to weak economic conditions.
"We're seeing slowing demand and lackluster economic data, which is causing analysts and economists to revise their growth outlooks for the year," said Mark Martiak, senior wealth strategist at Premier/First Allied Securities in New York.
Investors also looked to the latest corporate earnings reports for signs on the economy's strength, but results were mixed. Verizon Communications (VZ.N: Quote) surged 2.8 percent following a better-than-expected profit while Morgan Stanley (MS.N: Quote) slumped 5.4 percent as revenue from commodities trading fell sharply. UnitedHealth Group (UNH.N: Quote) dropped 3.8 percent as earnings fell, pressuring insurance companies.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI ended down 81.45 points, or 0.56 percent, at 14,537.14. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was down 10.40 points, or 0.67 percent, at 1,541.61. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 38.31 points, or 1.20 percent, at 3,166.36.
Europe's broad FTSE Eurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 ended flat near its lowest point of 2013. Frankfurt's DAX .GDAXI fell 0.4 percent while the Paris CAC-40 .FCHI edged 0.1 percent higher. Continued...