Wall Street ekes out gains at open after inflation data

Gladys Abbott
March 15, 2019

Average hourly earnings adjusted for consumer prices rose 1.9% in February from a downwardly revised 1.6% previously, the BLS reported. The move plunges the Brexit process into chaos just 17 days before Britain is due to leave the bloc.

Other marquee names also rose - Microsoft Corp, Facebook Inc and Amazon.com Inc gained between 1.2 and 2.3 percent. Overnight, gains in tech stocks drove benchmark S&P 500 to its biggest daily gain since January. The major indexes are still enjoying gains of 9 percent or more for the year so far.

Elsewhere, U.S. -China trade negotiations have continued this week as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He reportedly held a phone call with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Tuesday, according to China's state news agency Xinhua.

Shares in Southwest Airlines sank 2.12 percent while American Airlines lost 0.2 percent, United Continental gave up 0.8 percent. Costly tariffs have hurt both nations and investors hope a deal can be struck to at least take some pressure off the global economy, which has shown signs of cooling off.

The fatal crash of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 - the second involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 in five months - caused airlines in three countries to ground all flights involving the popular jet and cast fresh safety concerns on the airline. Back in October, another 737 Max 8 crashed in Indonesia, killing 189 people.

The impasse has raised fears of a chaotic "no-deal" Brexit that could disrupt businesses in Britain and the 27 remaining European Union countries. "In particular, we have seen a sharp rise in United Kingdom growth figures, with a 0.5% monthly figure and 1.5% year-on-year number proving that the United Kingdom economy remains resilient despite Brexit fears and a wider global slowdown".

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The dollar fell more steeply shortly after data revealed that the US consumer-price index climbed 0.2% in February, matching market expectations, while the cost of living over the past year slowed again to 1.5% from 1.6%. The agreement comes after more than a year of negotiations.

CURRENCIES: The dollar inched down to 111.21 yen from Tuesday's 111.26 yen. The euro rose to $1.1297 from $1.1240.

Bullion prices ended higher at Comex on Tuesday, 12 March 2019.

But once again, the DOW lagged behind, being pulled lower by Boeing (BA).

ENERGY: The price of benchmark USA crude oil rose 20 cents to $57.07 a barrel.

The price of gold rose 7 cents to $1,291.10 an ounce, silver rose 14 cents to $15.41 an ounce and copper rose 3 cents to $2.93 a pound.

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