Economic data on Thursday were mixed between flat and firm. Jobless claims show no improvement and point to still heavy payroll losses in tomorrow's big monthly report. The ISM's non-manufacturing report showed strength in output and an odd jump in prices but no change in new orders. The report's composite index points to continued though slowing contraction for the bulk of the economy. Chain-store sales were mostly but not uniformly positive, yet as a whole they point to long awaited, broad-based gains for the retail sales report at mid month.
Traders are reporting the appearance of fear, the result of equity losses in China. Demand for gold and silver are up in part due to concern that heavy profit taking may hit Chinese and U.S. equities this month and next and that talk may emerge for another wave of stimulus measures in the two nations. Gold flirted with $1,000 before settling over $990 for a more than $10 gain. Silver added 70 cents to $16.10. Base metals, which lack a premium as a monetary alternative, continue to fall back but only slightly with copper down a penny to $2.85. Oil ended slightly lower at $68, but natural gas was a big loser, down 50 cents to $2.50 following another weekly injection for inventories. The S&P 500 was little changed, hovering right around 1,000 and ending at 1,003. The dollar index was also little changed, ending under 78.50.