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US benchmarks end the year’s first trading day on a positive note

Celgene and Facebook were top gainers on the tech-heavy Nasdaq
Wall Street
Economic reports out of China and Europe showed signs of weakness

The US benchmarks ended the first trading day of the year on a positive note.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose about 20 points by the closing bell after falling nearly 400 points earlier in the trading day.

The Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS), DowDuPont Inc (NYSE:DWDP) and energy giants Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron Corp (NYSE:CVX) were some of the best-performing stocks on the index.

The S&P 500 was up about 4 points with General Electric Co (NYSE:GE) and Arconic Inc (NYSE:ARNC) as the top gainers.

The Nasdaq was up more than 30 points with Wynn Resorts Ltd (NASDAQ:WYNN) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) leading the charge.

The Russell 2000 climbed around 0.6% by the end of the trading day.

Synergy Pharma (NASDAQ:SGYP) was one of the best-performing stocks on the small-cap index. Bausch Health Companies Inc (NYSE:BHC) agreed to acquire the biopharma in a $200 million dollar deal in December.

Up north, the TSX was down about 4 points as energy stocks recovered and cannabis companies Aphria Inc (TSX:APH) (OTCQB:APHQF) and Canopy Growth Inc (TSX:WEED) (NYSE:CGC) lifted the healthcare sector.

1:15 PM: US stocks fluctuate on opening day of 2019 as investors hesitate over signs of global economic weakness

US stocks swung between gains and losses on the first day of 2019 trading as weak economic data added to concerns including rising interest rates and the US government shutdown.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 35.69 points, or 0.2%, to 23,291.77 on Wednesday while the Nasdaq climbed 13.20, or 0.2%, to 6,648.48. The broad-based S&P 500 was little changed at 2,506.45.

Among the blue chips, Travelers Companies Inc (NYSE:TRV) declined 2.6% to $116.59, while Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) climbed 2.5% to $171.18.

Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) was the biggest loser on the Nasdaq, tumbling 7% to $309.88 after the electric-car company’s fourth-quarter deliveries fell short of Wall Street expectations.

In China, a purchasing managers’ index for manufacturing dropped to 49.7 in December from 50.2 in the prior month, with a reading below 50 indicating contraction. The euro zone’s purchasing managers’ index stayed at its lowest level since February 2016.

The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks was little changed at 1,348.52. In Canada, Toronto’s TSX advanced 0.4% to 14,373.45.

10:00 AM: The Dow and US benchmarks tumble on first trading day of 2019; concerns mount about slowing economy

US stocks kicked off the first day of trading of 2019 by dropping sharply at the open, as weak economic data coming out of China and Europe added to concerns about the slowing global economy and the US government shutdown continued.

Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 354 points to 22,973, held back by a 2.7% drop by Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) and a 2.4% fall in shares of the airplane maker Boeing (NYSE:BA), two international trade benchmarks.

The Dow’s fall follows the release of a survey showing that manufacturing by China is contracting, which could spark repercussions across the globe.

The country’s privately-owned manufacturing sector – as measured by the Caixin manufacturing purchasing managers’ index – dropped to 49.7 in December from 50.2 in November – slipping below its key 50 point level for the first time in 19 months.

The eurozone manufacturing PMI (purchasing managers’ index) also stayed at its lowest level since February of 2016, according to fresh data from IHS Markit, further compounding worries about the slowing economy.

In line with the Dow’s drop, the S&P 500 also fell 27 points to 2,480 while the tech-laden Nasdaq was off 81 points at 6,554.

In Canada, Toronto’s TSX traded 207 points lower at 14,114 while the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks slipped 22 points to hit 1,327.

7:23 AM: US benchmarks set to start 2019 with a big fall as China manufacturing data weighs; European benchmarks lower

Wall Street stocks are set for a plunge at the open after closing higher before the New Year as weak economic data from China dragged global equities lower.

A survey of purchasing managers showed that manufacturing fell to 49.7 points last month (December) from 50.2 the month before that.

It is the second time in a week that data indicates China's manufacturing sector is contracting, which of course has a huge knock-on effect around the globe.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 index closed down almost 63 points while the Shanghai Composite Index lost around 28 at 2,465.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average are down 333 points at the time of writing, while the Nasdaq futures are off around 141 points. The S&P 500 futures are down nearly 37 points.

On Monday (December 31), the Dow Jones closed 265 points higher at 23,327. That compared with a closing level of 24,719.22 in 2017.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq index was up about 50 points at 6,635 but slipped nearly 4% over the year. The broader-based S&P 500 index closed up 21 points at 2,506. The index fell about 6% for the year.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 is down around 55 points at 6,674, while the German DAX is off around 29 and the French CAC 40 is down around 72 points to 4,658.

Looking at recent US trade, senior analyst at City Index Fiona Cincotta, said: "We saw some big swings in the US market going into the festive period which grabbed headlines, but these were to be expected due to the thinner volumes in US equity markets.

"The rest of this week will be a better gauge of US investor sentiment. S&P and DJIA futures were indicative of a negative opening number on Wall Street today."

She added: "Bear in mind the US government is still in a partial shutdown situation this morning – President Trump has invited Congressional leaders to the White House for discussions on the stand off today as the newly-energised Democrats, now in control of the House, table their own workaround legislation."

On Monday, the TSX in Toronto added 100 points to close at 14,322.

Contact Giles at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter @Gile74

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