US markets flat post Fed rate rise

US stock markets were broadly unchanged in early trading following the decision by the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee to increase interest rates to 1.0% from 0.75%, as widely anticipated.

On a day awash with economic data, jobless claims came in 2k lower in the week to March 11 and manufacturing activity continued to expand.

The Dow was down 0.02% at 20,946.36, the S&P 500 eased 0.09% to 2,3683.09, while the tech-focussed Nasdaq inched 0.01% higher to 5,900.72.

RISERS AND FALLERS

IT and financial related stocks on the Dow were making positive headway, with IBM, Intel, Goldman Sachs, American Express and JPMorgan Chase all up by over 0.8%.

Meanw1hile, E I du Pont de Nemours and Chevron were leading to the downside, both stocks off by over 1%.

COMMODITIES

At 2:45pm (GMT), WTI crude was 0.47% lower at $48.63/bbl, Brent was down 0.29% at $51.66/bbl, while gold was 2.27% higher at $1,228/oz.

ECONOMIC NEWS

US initial claims in the week ending March 11 was 241k, a decrease of 2k from the previous week's unrevised level, the US Department of Labor said today.

Manufacturing activity continued to expand, according to the firms responding to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's latest manufacturing business outlook survey. The index for current manufacturing activity in the region decreased from a reading of 43.3 in February to 32.8 this month.

Privately-owned housing starts in February were 3% higher than January at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.29m, the US Census Bureau and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development said today. Privately-owned US housing units authorised by building permits in February were 6.2% lower at 1.2m.

Job openings were little changed at 5.6m on the last business day of January, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed. Over the month, hires and separations were at 5.4m and 5.3m, respectively.