Stocks little changed, while dollar gains after factory data

NEW YORK (Reuters) -U.S. stocks were nearly flat on Friday and technology and consumer discretionary shares were the biggest decliners, while the dollar edged higher after stronger-than-expected U.S. manufacturing data.

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Data firm IHS Markit said its flash U.S. manufacturing PMI increased to 61.5 in the first half of this month. That was the highest reading since October 2009, and followed a final reading of 60.5 in April. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the index dipping to 60.2 in early May.

U.S. inflation worries have spooked markets, and minutes Wednesday from the last Federal Reserve meeting suggested some policymakers were ready to talk about reducing stimulus by tapering bond purchases.

“Institutional investors took a lot of money out due to inflation fears but that money will start flowing into tech stocks as those fears moderate,” said Thomas Hayes, chairman and managing member at hedge fund Great Hill Capital LLC.

The S&P tech index was last down 0.3%.

Rising virus cases globally also remain a concern. Official tolls showing the number of deaths directly or indirectly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to be a “significant undercount,” the World Health Organization said on Friday, saying 6-8 million people may have died so far.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 147.93 points, or 0.43%, to 34,232.08, the S&P 500 gained 1.95 points, or 0.05%, to 4,161.07 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 35.39 points, or 0.26%, to 13,500.35.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.57% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.08%.

In the euro zone, the IHS Markit’s flash Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index, seen as a good guide to economic health, climbed to 56.9 in May, its highest level since February 2018, from April’s final reading of 53.8.

British retail sales surged 9.2% on the month in April, twice the average forecast in a Reuters poll of economists, and the UK Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index hit a record high at 62.0.

The dollar index rose 0.311%, with the euro down 0.44% to $1.2172.

Bitcoin dropped after China’s Vice Premier Liu He said his government will crack down on the virtual currency’s mining and trading activities.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday called for new rules that would require large cryptocurrency transfers to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service and the Fed flagged the risks cryptocurrencies posed to financial stability.

Treasury yields traded near flat after the factory activity report.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 2/32 in price to yield 1.6284%, from 1.634% late on Thursday.

Oil prices were up more than $1 a barrel after recent losses, while gold was down 0.2%.

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