Stocks closed little changed Monday as weak economic data out of Europe stoked worries over the state of the global economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained just 14.92 points, or 0.1% to 26,949.99, led by a gain in American Express. The S&P 500 ended the day just below the flatline at 2,991.77. The Nasdaq Composite dipped nearly 0.1% to 8,112.46.
Manufacturing activity in Germany fell to its lowest level since the financial crisis this month, data from IHS Markit showed. Germany’s services sector also grew at its slowest pace in nine months. Overall, manufacturing in the euro zone fell to a more than six-year low while services grew at is slowest pace in eight months, IHS Markit said.
European stocks fell broadly on the weak data. The German Dax dropped 1.1% while France’s CAC 40 slid 1%.
The U.S. manufacturing sector hit a five-month high in September, while the services sector grew at its fastest pace in two months, according to data from IHS Markit. However, IHS noted the manufacturing data remained among the weakest since 2016. “Prospects also look gloomy, with inflows of new business down to the lowest since 2009.”
Monday’s moves come after the major indexes snapped a three-week winning streak on Friday as they struggled to reach July’s record highs. Entering Monday’s session, the Dow and S&P 500 were more than 1% from their all-time highs. The Nasdaq Composite was 2.7% away.
“Trends remain largely intact from mid-August lows, but still largely a poor Risk/reward for new longs until many US indices and sectors can get back above July highs, which might be difficult during one of the more seasonally bearish weeks of the year,” Mark Newton, managing member at Newton Advisors, wrote in a note.
Stocks have struggled at these levels amid lingering trade tensions between China and the U.S. However, senior Chinese trade officials said talks held last week were “constructive.” U.S. officials said in a statement the two sides held “productive” trade talks ahead of formal negotiations next month.
President Donald Trump has said China would increase its purchases of U.S. agricultural products as part of a bilateral trade deal.
“Trade wars and isolationist policies pose a major threat heading forward, and are being fueled in part by the reduction in global trade and manufacturing jobs,” said Phillip Colmar, partner at MRB Partners, in a note. “So far, the direct impact has been modest, but the indirect impact on manufacturing sentiment and activity has been meaningful given the starting point of subdued global export demand.”
Amazon shares pulled back by 0.4% after an analyst at Morgan Stanley lowered its price target on the e-commerce giant to $2,200 from $2,300. The analyst cited Amazon’s one-day shipping for the target trim, but noted this will “will likely only deepen their moats” long term.
American Express rose 1.2% after the company authorized a buyback program of up to 120 million shares. The company also hiked its dividend by 10% to 43 cents per share.