US stocks posted modest losses in early trade Friday after a mixed report on durable goods orders pointed to a weakening manufacturing sector and a slowing economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down a scant 0.01 point (0.00 percent) at 13,057.45 at 16:45 SA time.
The S&P 500-stock index dropped 1.62 points (0.12 percent) to 1,400.46, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 5.69 (0.19 percent) to 3,047.71.
“The US equity markets are seeing some pressure... in the wake of a mixed domestic durable goods orders report,” Charles Schwab & Co. analysts said.
New orders for durable goods in the United States surged more than expected in July, up 4.2 percent from June amid sharp rises in orders for aircraft and automobiles, the Commerce Department reported.
But excluding transportation, orders surprisingly fell for the second month in a row, by 0.4 percent.
Analysts said that behind the headline surge, the underlying data of the report were worrying, highlighting weakening in the manufacturing sector.
“This red flag suggests that manufacturing, which had been the mainstay of the recovery, could slow sharply over the coming months... and hinder the economy's ability to pick up from its paltry sub-2.0 percent growth rate recorded over the first two quarters of the year,” said analysts at RDQ Economics.
Dow member Caterpillar dropped 1.1 percent, Intel fell 0.9 percent and JPMorgan Chase lost 1.4 percent.
Shares in Autodesk plunged 13.9 percent a day after the software maker reported disappointing second-quarter earnings and full-year outlook.
Bristol-Myers Squibb was up 1.0 percent after announcing it would take a $1.38 billion charge on its hepatitis C drug failure.
Apple slipped 0.2 percent. A South Korea court ruled that Apple and Samsung infringed on each other's patents on mobile devices, awarding damages to both technology giants and imposing a partial ban on product sales in South Korea.
On Thursday, sharp falls by Dow blue chips Boeing and Hewlett-Packard helped give stocks their worst day so far this month, leaving the Dow down 0.9 percent.
Bond prices climbed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.64 percent from 1.67 percent Thursday, while the 30-year yield dropped to 2.76 percent from 2.79 percent. Bond yields move inversely to prices. - Sapa-AFP