Wall Street starts year higher on upbeat manufacturing data, strong oil prices

US markets jumped higher on the first trading day of the New Year, with tax changes now effective and as oil prices remained above the psychological $60 per barrel mark.

The IHS Markit 'final' US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index reading for December of 55.1 signalled a solid improvement in the health of the sector.

Traders brushed aside the latest rhetoric from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after he said on Monday that his country's nuclear forces are now a reality, not a future threat.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 83.24 points to reach 24,802.46, half an hour after the open.

The broader-based S&P 500 followed suit, gaining 10.81 points at 2,684.42 and the tech-focused Nasdaq climbed 0.8%, or 54.97 points, to 6,958.36.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 was recently down 56.6 points at 7,632.1, the DAX was off by 88.5 points at 12,829.22 and the CAC 40 was 35.47 points lower at 5,356.53.

COMMODITIES

West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude were both slightly lower but remained above the $60 per barrel level.

At around 3:00pm, WTI was $60.35 per barrel and Brent was $66.67 per barrel.

Gold was 0.4% firmer at $1,314.5 an ounce, silver was 0.2% higher but copper was down 0.42%.

ECONOMIC NEWS

Manufacturing PMI data from the Institute for Supply Management is also due this afternoon which should give a further indication on whether the manufacturing sector in the US expanded or contracted in December.