S&P and Dow flat on lackluster data, Apple boosts Nasdaq

Traders and financial professionals work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Traders and financial professionals work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The S&P 500 and the Dow were little changed on Thursday morning following a lackluster set of data, while the Nasdaq got a boost from Apple.

Investors got a blast of economic data, including a bigger-than-expected drop in retail sales and industrial output for August, which pointed at some weakness in the US economy. A separate report showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose less than expected last week, pointing to a further tightening in labour market conditions.

"We're right now in a Goldilocks economy. It's not too hot, it's not too cold. It's just right to keep the Fed on the sidelines and keep interest rates right where they are," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

Investors have been fretting over the possibility of a rate hike when the data-dependent Federal Reserve holds its policy-setting meeting next week, especially after contrasting comments from Fed officials in the past few days.

Traders slashed the odds of a hike in September to 9 per cent from 15 per cent after the data, and pushed down the chances of a December move to 46.2 per cent from 52.8 per cent, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.

At 9:40 a.m. ET (9:40 p.m Singapore time) the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 11.85 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 18,022.92. The S&P 500 was down 2.11 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 2,123.66. The Nasdaq Composite was up 7.70 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 5,181.47.

Half of the 10 major S&P 500 indexes were higher, led by a 0.48 per cent rise in the technology sector.

Apple was up 2.4 per cent to US$114.44, its fourth straight day of gains, after the company said the first batch of the iPhone 7 Plus sold out. The stock gave the biggest boost to all three indexes .

The energy index was the second biggest gainer, boosted by as oil prices rebound after two days of steep declines.