While you were sleeping: Wall Street rally pauses

Wall Street fell, pushing the Standard & Poor's 500 Index down from its record-high close, as shares of Home Depot dropped on reports of a credit card data breach, while those of Chevron slipped with the price of oil.

In afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.35 percent, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index slid 0.22 percent. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.19 percent.

Declines in shares of Home Depot and Chevron, down 3.1 percent and 1.8 percent respectively, led the Dow lower. Home Depot dropped amid reports hackers may have stolen credit card data from the company's customers. Shares of Chevron weakened with the price of oil.

Shares of Boeing fell, last down 1.5 percent, after an analyst at New York-based The Buckingham Research Group downgraded the stock outlook to "underperform," the first such rating for Boeing's stock since 2009, according to Reuters.

The S&P 500 declined from its record-high close of 2,003.37 reached last Friday. On Monday, North American markets were closed for the Labor Day holiday.

To be sure, the overall trend is up, according to Morgan Stanley strategist Adam Parker and economist Ellen Zentner.

"Our best guess is that an S&P 500 peak of near 3000 is possible should the US expansion prove to have five or more years left to it, based on 6 percent per annum [earnings per share] growth through that time frame and a 17x price-to-earnings ratio," Parker and Zentner wrote in a note. "As the prolonged expansion becomes more visible, we'd expect a materially higher US stock market."

The latest economic data showed further strength in US manufacturing, a contrast to the recent trend in the euro zone and China.

The Institute for Supply Management's index of national factory activity advanced to 59.0 in August, the highest in more than three years, and up from 57.1 in July. Separately, Markit's US manufacturing purchasing managers index climbed to 57.9 last month, the highest level in more than four years, and up from 55.8 in July.

"The US manufacturing sector has gone from strength to strength this summer, with August's improvement in business conditions the sharpest for over four years," Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit, said in a statement.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 ended the day marginally lower from the previous close at 342.75. The UK's FTSE 100 inched 0.06 percent higher, while Germany's DAX rose 0.3 percent. France's CAC 40 slipped 0.03 percent.

All eyes are on the September 4 meeting of European Central Bank policy makers after President Mario Draghi last month raised expectations for additional stimulus to fight the downward spiral in the euro-zone's inflation.

(BusinessDesk)

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