NEW YORK — Stocks were mixed in afternoon trading today as a relatively strong U.S. manufacturing report was weighed against a market that has started to look expensive to some investors.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 56 points, or 0.4 percent, to 15,601 as of 2:05 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,760. The Nasdaq composite fell 8 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3,914.
The Nasdaq was hit with more technical problems. Trading was halted on the Nasdaq Options Market as of 10:36 a.m. Eastern time, according to Nasdaq OMX. Regular stock trading was not affected.
RELATED ARTICLE: Manufacturing expands at fastest pace in 2 1/2 years
On Tuesday, Nasdaq indexes weren’t updated for about 45 minutes because of a technical problem, and on Aug. 22 trading was halted on the Nasdaq Stock Market for three hours because of a separate technical glitch.
The Nasdaq Options Market is one of the larger stock options markets, handling to roughly 11 percent of stock options trading in the U.S., according to the Options Clearing Corporation. A stock option gives the holder the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a stock at a fixed price in the future. Movement in the options markets can impact the broader stock market.
Stocks had been moderately higher most of the morning after the Institute for Supply Management reported that its manufacturing index increased to 56.4 from 56.2 in September. That was better than the 55.1 figure economists were expecting, according financial data provider FactSet.
The improvement came during what could have been a difficult month for the U.S. economy, with a partial government shutdown that lasted 16 days and a narrowly averted default on the U.S. government’s debt, which could have rattled financial markets.
The stock market had a strong October. The S&P 500 closed at a record high seven times during the month, most recently on Tuesday. It ended October with a gain of 4.5 percent.
An increasing number of investors have expressed skepticism that stocks can keep rising at this pace heading into the last two months of the year.
The S&P 500 is up 23 percent so far this year, while the average annual return on the S&P 500 is around 8 percent. Stocks are also starting to look expensive by some measures. Investors are paying more than $16 for every $1 of earnings in the S&P 500, the highest that ratio has been since February 2011.
“I don’t think this market is cheap by any means,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial. “We’ve been urging caution for some time now.”
In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.60 percent from 2.56 percent.
Among stocks making big moves:
— Chevron fell $1.83, or 1.5 percent, to $118.20. The world’s second-largest publicly-traded oil company said its third-quarter income fell 6 percent, missing analysts’ estimates, due to weakness in the company’s refining business.
— The Container Store doubled on its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The company raised $225 million in its initial public offering, pricing 12.5 million shares at $18 each. The stock soared $17.79 to $35.79.
— First Solar jumped $8.57, or 17 percent, to $59.10. The solar panel maker said it had an adjusted profit of $2.28 per share for the third quarter, blowing past analysts’ estimates of $1.13 per share, according FactSet.
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