Stocks drift in early trading after closing out a big August

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are starting the new month on a weak note on Wall Street, a day after notching their biggest monthly gains since April. The S&P 500 was waffling between small gains and losses in the early going Tuesday, while gains for Apple and other tech stocks pushed the Nasdaq higher. Zoom Video Communications soared a day after the now-ubiquitous video conferencing service reported another quarter of explosive growth. This is a busy week for economic news, culminating Friday with the monthly U.S. jobs report. Tesla gave back some of its recent gains after saying it would sell up to $5 billion in stock.

Solid economic news out of China overnight helped support most European stock markets on Tuesday, though the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares fell sharply, a day after it was closed for a public holiday.

In Europe, France’s CAC 40 was up 0.3% at 4,963 while Germany’s DAX rose 0.6% to 13,023. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 1.3% to 5,888. U.S. shares were set for a fairly stedy opening with Dow futures down 0.1% and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.1%.

“Overall it is a healthy morning for stock markets, which have taken their cue from some better economic data overnight in Asia, while indices in mainland Europe have continued to move higher in the wake of gains in the U.S.,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG in London.

“August 2020, far from being a poor month, was in fact one of the strongest in recent memory and was notably free of the volatility that often characterises the month,” he said.

Being the start of the month, it’s a busy time on the economic news front, culminating this Friday with nonfarm payroll figures out of the U.S., which given the imminent presidential election could have a bigger bearing on the market mood than usual. Later Tuesday, the monthly U.S. manufacturing survey from the Institute for Supply Management will be in focus.

So far the numbers emerging have been solid, with the Caixin purchasing managers index in China beating expectations at 53.1. The index is on a scale up to 100, with 50 being the cutoff between expansion and contraction.

Although the pandemic started in China, the world’s number 2 economy has been among the first to rebound. Export-oriented nations in Asia are likely to be instant beneficiaries of a China revival.

The Shanghai Composite index added 0.4% to 3,410.61. Elsewhere in Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index ended flat, finishing at 23,138.07. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong also was little changed at 25,184.85 but South Korea’s Kospi gained 1.0% to 2,349.55. Australia’s benchmark underperformed, falling nearly 2% as the Reserve Bank of Australia decided to keep interest rates at record lows, as expected.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil added 50 cents to $43.11 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude, the international standard, rose 61 cents to $45.89 a barrel.

The euro was up 0.5% at $1.20 while the dollar was flat 105.83 Japanese yen.