U.S. stocks opened modestly at Friday’s opening bell after a tumultuous morning of trading, as investors braced for the end of an unpredictable week marked by news of the coronavirus pandemic’s hold on the labor market and hope for economic recovery.

The Dow Jones industrial average opened down 51 points, or a nearly 0.2 percent dip. The S&P 500 index opened down almost five points, a 0.1 percent decline, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite opened up eight points, a nearly 0.1 percent increase.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s durable goods report released Friday indicated that manufacturers’ new orders increased 0.4 percent to $232.8 billion in August, continuing a steady uptick for the past four months. While shipments, inventories and unfilled orders slightly dipped (all less than 1 percent compared to July), new orders for capital goods jumped almost 8 percent to $62.9 billion.

Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist for MUFG, noted Friday morning that the report’s news showed that companies’ orders — now higher than before the start of the pandemic in March — countered analyst expectations and revealed a complicated economic path to recovery.

“New coronavirus cases spreading disease and sickness across the country, and recession-level high unemployment leaving people without the means to support themselves, have done nothing to stop companies from purchasing new equipment in order to produce the goods and services the economy needs in the future,” Rupkey said in an email. “At the moment, the future looks bright for businesses who see no uncertainty at all.”

The Washington Post


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