- Durable goods orders jump, but investment falls
- Bullard sees jobless rate below six per cent by year-end
- Facebook gains on Oculus deal
- Candy Crush maker drops on debut
Dow Jones: 0.24%
S&P 500: 0.29%
US stocks opened with modest gains on Wednesday despite data showing that spending on business investment fell for the fourth time in six months.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2% in early trading, while the Nasdaq and S&P 500
were both 0.3% higher.
Orders for durable goods jumped by 2.2% in February to a seasonally adjusted $229.4bn, according to data from the Commerce Department, surprising analysts who had expected a rise of just 0.8%.
However, the positive surprise was mainly as a result of large increases in the volatile transportation sector. Excluding this, core durable goods orders rose by a more modest 0.2%, lower than the 0.3% gain expected by the market.
As such, core capital goods orders (ex-defence and aircraft) - seen as an important measure of business investment - actually dropped by 1.3% over the month; analysts had expected a 0.5% rise.
In other economic data, the Markit services purchasing managers' index rose to 55.5 in March, up from 53.3 the month before and ahead of the consensus forecast for 54.
Markets were also reacting to comments from a Federal Reserve official who said the US jobless rate will fall below 6% this year, compared with the 6.7% rate registered in February.
James Bullard, President of the St. Louis Fed, painted a bright outlook for the US economy despite weak data earlier in the year.
"The biggest thing is that unemployment has come down more quickly than expected," he said at the annual Credit Suisse investor conference in Hong Kong today. Bullard is not a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee.
Facebook gains on Oculus deal
Facebook advanced as the social network group said it will spend $2bn to buy Oculus, which makes virtual-reality headsets.
Candy Crush maker King Digital Entertainment was making headlines today as it debuted on the stock market, falling sharply after the opening bell. The stock, which was priced at $22.50 yesterday opened around 9% lower at $20.50.
Endocyte declined after the biotechnology company said it will offer 4.5m shares
to raise funds for working capital, research and development and clinical-trial costs.
Tesla Motors climbed as the Ohio Senate committee approved a bill that permits the company to operate retail stores.
The yield on a 10-year benchmark US Treasury was down two basis points at 2.73%.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures for May delivery was 0.58% higher at $99.77 a barrel.