Stocks were off to a mixed start on Wall Street Thursday as gains for retailers are offset by drops in technology and materials companies. The S&P 500 was bouncing between small gains and losses in the first few minutes of trading. A surprise jump in retail sales last month helped push several store chains higher including Gap and Bath & Body Works, which were among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500. Bond yields also rose following the report, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note up to 1.34% from 1.30% a day earlier. Energy prices slipped.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
Shares were higher in Europe on Thursday after a mixed day of trading in Asia, where most major benchmarks declined.
Germany's DAX picked up 0.6% to 15,713.53, while the CAC 40 in Paris rose 0.8% to 6,633.67. In London, the FTSE 100 advanced 0.5% to 7,048.93.
U.S. futures were little changed, while the yield on the 10-year Treasury was steady at 1.31%.
Hong Kong and Shanghai dropped amid disappointing economic data for August.
China reported late Wednesday that its retail sales grew an anemic 2.5% in August, down from 8.5% in July, while factory output slowed to 5.3% from 6.4% the month before.
It was the slowest growth in output since May 2020.
“Yesterday's China data were a real shock," RaboResearch Global Economics & Markets said in a report. “This is hardly what one calls a robust consumer recovery," it said.
Adding to investors' unease, reports said troubled property giant Evergrande would fail to make interest payments due next week. Rating agencies have warned the cash-strapped company could default on its debt.
Its Hong Kong traded shares fell 6.4% on Thursday. They have lost more than half their value in the past month.
The Hang Seng in Hong Kong declined 1.5% to 24,667.85, while the Shanghai Composite index sank 1.3% to 3,607.09.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.6% to 30,323.34 after Japan reported that its exports rose 26.2% in August from a year earlier. That was well below forecasts for a rise of over 30%, Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a commentary.
The preliminary customs data showed vehicle exports, a mainstay for the economy, slipped 1.1% while car exports declined 1.5%.
Shortages of semiconductors and other components that have prompted some car manufacturers to cut output, and demand has been hit by recent new waves of coronavirus outbreaks.
In Seoul, the Kospi lost 0.7% to 3,130.09.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.6% to 7,460.20. Shares fell in Taiwan but rose in Singapore and India.
On Wednesday, energy and technology companies helped lift stocks on Wall Street broadly higher, reversing the market's pullback from a day earlier.
The S&P 500 rose 0.8% to 4,480.70 after another day of choppy trading. It was the biggest daily gain for the benchmark index since late August and it put the S&P 500 on pace to close the week higher.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.7% to 34,814.39. The Nasdaq composite added 0.8% to 15,161.53. Small-company stocks did even better, with the Russell 2000 index gaining 1.1%, to 2,234.45.
Wall Street will get get more information on jobs and consumer spending on Thursday when the Labor Department releases its weekly report on unemployment benefits and the Commerce Department releases retail sales data for August.
In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 8 cents more, at $72.53 per barrel. Brent crude, the standard for international pricing, gained 1 cent to $75.47 per barrel.
In currency trading, the dollar was flat at 109.38 Japanese yen. The euro fell to $1.1776 from $1.1817.