After opening higher, the major U.S. stock market indexes struggled to find direction, turning negative in afternoon trading before ending the day mixed. Investors appeared optimistic following earlier comments from European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi suggesting the possibility of further stimulus measures in light of a lowered inflation forecast.
Non-manufacturing activity grew in August for the 67th month in a row, but the rate of gain, albeit still strong, moderated a little from July. Specifically, the Institute for Supply Management, an Arizona-based trade group, this morning reported that the services sector had continued to expand in August, coming in with a reading of 59.0. To be sure, that result was off from July's 60.3 score, but it was better than the forecasted 58.4 reading and well above the 50.0 divide between a growing services sector and one that is contracting.
The Federal Reserve's Beige Book, which summarizes economic activity across the nation's 12 Federal Reserve Districts, affirmed that overall business conditions had continued to improve from July to mid-August. This summation was in line with expectations and relatively consistent with previous issuances over the past number of months.