New York Report: Wall St drifts lower as rough ride continues

US stocks slipped yesterday as technical support offset the latest batch of mixed data, which failed to lift sentiment after a string of soft economic indicators earlier in the week.

In a volatile trading session, the S&P 500 index hit a session low of 1,737.92, marking its lowest level since mid-October, before rebounding to briefly climb into positive territory with a session high of 1,755.79.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 5.01 points or 0.03 per cent, to end at 15,440.23. The Nasdaq fell 19.968 points or 0.5 per cent, to close at 4,011.552.

US data is being closely watched after a weak reading in the factory sector on Monday sent Wall Street into a tailspin and triggered an equity selloff. Yesterday’s data left investors with little clarity about the economic impact from the harsh weather this winter.

Growth picked up in the services sector in January, with steady strength in private-sector hiring, suggesting the winter weather that socked the country over the last several weeks had a limited effect on the economy.

Investors were also cautious with the US nonfarm payrolls report looming on Friday. Last month's surprisingly low jobs number was discounted by many as an outlier negatively affected by the severe weather.

Limp data earlier in the week added to concerns about growth for some emerging markets. A rout in currencies spurred some central banks to act, luring investors into assets perceived as relatively safe, like the yen and US treasuries.