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Stocks Mostly Higher Despite Data

Kevin O'Shaughnessy

U.S. Market
Economic data released Friday was somewhat weak, but investors still were in buying mode following Thursday's rally.

U.S. industrial production for October slipped by 0.1% compared with September's reading, and capacity utilization also fell slightly to 78.1%. Each reading fell short of expectations as the output levels for the measured industries were mixed.

Prices of goods imported to the U.S. declined by 0.7% in October from September, more than the expected decline of 0.5%. Year over year, prices had lost 2%, and the most recent drop was on account of falling oil prices. The overall numbers suggest economic sluggishness overseas.

Meanwhile, the Fed Bank of New York's Empire State Manufacturing index fell to negative 2.21 this month from a positive reading of 1.52 in October. The negative reading is the first in six months and indicates conditions in the New York area appear to be contracting. The reading also was well-short of the expected positive tally of 5.0 as most of the subindexes fell.

The Dow was 0.2% higher at midday. The S&P 500 was up by 0.1%. The Nasdaq was flat.

Stocks on the Move
After Thursday's closing bell, Nordstrom (JWN) announced third-quarter sales of $2.8 billion and flat comparable-store growth numbers that were slightly lower than Wall Street forecasts but did not stray from the firm's previous outlook. Nordstrom maintained its full-year outlook for 2%-3% same-store sales growth, implying similar trends in the fourth quarter, and narrowed its earnings-per-share forecast to $3.65-$3.70 on 198 million shares (from $3.60-$3.70 a share on 200 million shares). Shares were 1.6% lower at midday.

Foreign Markets
Stocks overseas were higher following the strong showing by U.S. equities Thursday. The Shanghai Composite and the Hang Seng each gained 1.7%, and the Nikkei 225 rose by 1.9%.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 had risen by 0.4%, while the Paris CAC and the DAX each gained 0.2%.