US equity benchmarks were trading modestly higher on Monday afternoon as expectations for strong earnings from technology companies due out later this week and an agreement from Congress to fund government spending until September helped to offset a steep sell-off in oil futures. In economic news, the Institute of Supply Management’s (ISM) Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) posed its eighth consecutive month of expansion in April, albeit marking the slowest rate of growth since December. The headline index, which is based on survey responses from US manufacturing supply executives, registered a reading of 54.8% in April, above the 50% level which separates expansion from contraction but nevertheless a 2.4 percentage point drop from March’s reading of 57.2%, and the weakest pace of growth since the reading of 54.5% was registered in December.
Data from the US Census Bureau, meanwhile, showed that construction spending contracted by 0.2% in March from the previous month and was up by 3.6% from a year earlier. The bureau also revised upward previous estimates for the rates of change in January and February following what was described as “weather-led growth” in the fourth quarter. Spending in construction expanded by 1.8% in February, more than twice the 0.8% expansion that had previously been projected, and advanced by 0.8% in January, compared to an earlier forecast for a contraction of 0.4%, according to the Bureau.