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Monday September 24th, 2018 5:43AM

US stocks are little changed after mixed economic reports

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are little changed Friday morning as banks climb but retailers and big-dividend stocks slide. The Federal Reserve said production of cars and energy jumped in August.

Interest rates are climbing as investors expect continued economic growth and further interest rate increases. However, monthly retail sales were weaker than analysts expected.

Shares of Canadian marijuana companies are slumping following a report that the U.S. may ban people who work in that industry from entering the country.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index dipped 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,902 as of 10:20 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 5 points to 26,151. The Nasdaq composite gained 2 points to 8,016. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slid 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,713.

FACTORY FACTOR: U.S. industrial production rose by a healthy 0.4 percent in August, according to the Federal Reserve. The central bank said production of autos climbed, while production of oil and natural gas continued to rise. Aerospace company Boeing gained 0.9 percent to $358.55 and shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls gained 1.1 percent to $251.60.

The Fed's report is a sign the U.S. economy is likely to keep growing, which means the Federal Reserve is likely to continue raising interest rates. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3 percent from 2.96 percent late Thursday.

That helped banks, as higher long-term interest rates help them make more money from mortgages and other types of loans. Lincoln National rose 1.2 percent to $65.98 and Citigroup rose 0.7 percent to $70.61.

RETAIL SALES: Consumers slowed their spending in August and the Commerce Department said retail sales grew 0.1 percent for the month. The prices for clothing and other items dipped, which might have encouraged shoppers but reduced revenue for companies. Gap fell 1.6 percent to $27.78 and TJX fell $107.71.

Consumer confidence is at its highest level in 18 years, and the slowdown in August could prove to be temporary.

STORM WATCH: Hurricane Florence came ashore in North Carolina Friday morning, and while its winds have weakened in recent days, experts consider the storm surge to be a significant threat, along with days of heavy rain from the slow-moving storm. While Florence could do significant damage to North and South Carolina and other parts of the East Coast, it's not expected to have a big effect on the overall economy. Economists at HIS Markit said the hurricane might slow down growth in the third quarter a bit but would likely contribute to growth in the fourth quarter.

Analyst Ryan Detrick at LPL Financial said hurricanes generally have little immediate effect on stock prices.

TRADE UPDATE: China's government said Thursday that the U.S. government has invited it for talks on their escalating tariff dispute, ahead of a decision by President Donald Trump on whether to raise duties on $200 billion of Chinese imports.

UP IN SMOKE: Shares in British Columbia marijuana company Tilray slumped after Politico reported that the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol may ban people who work in the marijuana industry from entering the country. Canada is set to legalize marijuana in October and stocks in the industry have soared recently. On Friday Tilray slumped 6.9 percent to $111.52. its stock was valued at $17 when it went public two months ago.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude slid 0.6 percent to $68.15 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 0.1 percent to $78.12 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 112.01 yen from 111.88 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1670 from $1.1692.

OVERSEAS: The German DAX and the French CAC both rose 0.6 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 index added 0.4 percent.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 1.2 percent and South Korea's Kospi advanced 1.4 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1 percent.

____

AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jay

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Financial Services, AP Business - Utilities
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