Out of the gate, U.S. stocks were poised for a day of mixed results as Wall Street digested economic data to gauge how solid the chances are for an interest rate hike at the next Federal Reserve meeting on December 16.
As a result, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat at 17,897 at the opening bell while the S&P 500 gained 0.1 percent to 2,103. The S&P 500 Retail Industry Group Index jumped 0.2 percent to 1,312.
Retail stocks opened with average gains of 0.1 to 2 percent. Bon-Ton Stores Inc. rose 11.2 percent to $2.38, which followed double-digit gains on Tuesday. Vince Holding Group was down 4.4 percent to $5.55 after the stock saw significant gains in prior trading sessions possibly due to investor confidence in leadership changes at the company.
Key data points out today include higher-than-expected private sector jobs, which rose 217,000 in November — above the 190,000 forecast. Third-quarter productivity was also upwardly revised to show an increase of 2.2 percent. Both added to the case for a rate hike in December.
In Europe, major indices varied with the FTSE 100 in London up 0.3 percent to 6,416 and the German DAX down 0.5 percent to 11,211. The Paris CAC 400 was trending down 0.1 percent to 4,909.
Earlier in the day, Asian stocks closed with varied results. China’s Shanghai index gained 2.3 percent to 3,537 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.4 percent to 22,480 and the Nikkei 225 in Japan lost 0.4 percent to 19,938.
Despite the higher productivity, IHS Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh noted that the 10-year trend on labor productivity has been slowing. “Different theories exist to explain the phenomenon,” he said. “Is it diminishing returns of the digital age — has technology stopped adding value? Perhaps it is a lack of innovation and risk-taking on the part of firms in this post-crisis, bubble-prone landscape.”