The stock markets in the United States declined due to reports indicating slow growth in manufacturing. Investors remained concerned regrading the potential escalation of the conflict in Ukraine.

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The Markit Economics preliminary index showed that U.S. manufacturing fell to 55.5% from 57.1% in the previous month. The average estimate of economists polled by Bloomberg was 56.5%. A reading of more than 50% indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector. The current U.S. manufacturing level is the second-highest since January this year.

Commenting on the movement of the U.S. markets, Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at RW Baird & Co. told Bloomberg, “The market has been running into resistance at 1,880. Today, it’s a question of what catalyst can come in and generate extra volume.”

On the other hand, Chris Bouffard, Chief investment officer at The Mutual Fund Store opined that the U.S. PMI spooked investors.  According to him,  “It’s more of the mixed data and the slower-than-desired economic recovery that just persist. Every time we get a little of momentum, we take a couple steps back with one of the economic readings coming in below expectations.”

Meanwhile, the foreign minister of Ukraine stated that the risk of war is growing amid calls from lawmakers in the United States for more support for the Kiev government. According to U.S. officials, Russia’s troops increased in the entire border of Ukraine. President Barack Obama is in Europe to talk to its fellow G7 leaders to increase pressure against Russia to stop it from moving further towards Ukraine after annexing Crimea.

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)- 16,276.69 (-0.16%)
  • S&P 500- 1,857.44 (-0.49 %)
  • NASDAQ- 4,226.39 (-1.18%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,179.06 (-1.23%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,052.91 (-1.41%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,520.39 (-0.56%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 9,188.77 (-1.65%)

Asia Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 14,475.30 (+1.77%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 21,846.45 (+1.91%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 2,176.55 (+0.82%)

Stocks in Focus

The stock price of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) declined 4.67% to $64.10 per share. The StreetRatings team recommended a Hold rating with score of C for the stock citing mixed strength and weaknesses. StreetRatings said the social network giant has strength in multiple areas including robust revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels, and impressive earnings per share growth, but its return on equity was disappointing.

Today, Facebook Coo Sheryl Sandberg submitted a declaration in court stating that she rejected the demand of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) to limit the social network giant’s hiring of employees for the search engine giant. The stock price of Google also declined more than 2% to $1,157.93 per share today.

The shares of Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) dropped 6.67$ to $378.90 per share on potential competition from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). The Wall Street Journal reported that the iPhone and iPad maker is in talks with Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) to release a TV set-top box. The stock price of Apple gained 1.19% to $539.19 per share while Comcast rose 0.60% to $50.30 per share today.