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Stocks Turn Higher; Consumer Spending, ISM Data Eyed

Jeremy Glaser

U.S. Market
Stocks were mostly higher in choppy trading this morning.

Consumer spending dipped 0.3% in December as the savings rate rose to 4.9% in the month from 4.3% in November. The decline was driven by a fall in both durable goods purchase (down 1.2%) and nondurable goods (down 1.3%). Spending on services inched up 0.1%. Real disposable income was up 0.5%.

The closely watched ISM manufacturing index, which measures the strength of the U.S. factory sector, fell to 53.5 in January from 55.1 in December. The reading is the worst in a year and economists had expected the index to come in at 54.3.

At midday the Nasdaq, Dow and S&P 500 were up 0.3%, 0.4% and 0.6% respectively.

Stocks on the Move
Shares of Exxon Mobil (XOM) rose 1.7% this morning after the firm reported better-than-expected fourth quarter results. The firm said it earned $6.57 billion in the quarter, down from $8.35 billion in the year-ago period as low oil prices weighed. The company was boosted by its chemical decision and a favorable arbitration ruling regarding Venezuelan assets.

Foreign Markets
European markets were higher as Greek fears eased somewhat after Prime Minister Tsipras said that Greece will stay in the eurozone. In late trading, the FTSE 100 and Paris CAC were each up 0.4% while Germany’s DAX rose 1%.

Asian shares were lower today. In the Shanghai Composite dropped 2.6%, the Nikkei 225 was off 0.7% while the Hang Seng fell a modest 0.1%.