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Stocks - Wall Street Drifts at Opening After Weak Factory Data

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By Geoffrey Smith -- U.S. stock markets drifted at the opening on Friday as fresh signs of weakness in U.S. factories blunted a relentless advance.

Industrial production fell 0.3% in January, according to data released earlier, more than the 0.2% drop seen. Capacity utilization also fell to 76.8%, within a whisker of its lowest since 2018.

The news followed data showing the U.S. consumer, at least, remained untouched by fears of the Covid-19 outbreak in January – retail sales rising 0.3% on the month despite a drop in clothing sales.

By 10:00 AM ET (1500 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 32 points, or 0.1% at 29,390. The S&P 500 was unchanged and the Nasdaq Composite was up less than 0.1%.

The Nasdaq was supported by a 6.5% rise in chipmaker Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA), which posted much stronger than expected earnings for the fourth quarter and issued guidance above Wall Street’s forecast for the current quarter.

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock rose 0.5% to $809.50 after the company said it had sold $2 billion of stock at $767 on Thursday – a 4.6% discount to Thursday’s closing price and the biggest discount it has ever offered at a secondary share sale.

Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU) stock and Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) stock both also rose sharply after exceeding consensus forecasts with quarterly results that they announced late on Thursday. The online travel agent's stock is now almost back where it was before it shocked the market with its previous trading statement.

Kraft Heinz (NASDAQ:KHC) fell another 4.3%, extending Thursday’s losses after posting disappointing organic sales and goodwill writedowns in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile Lyft (NASDAQ:LYFT) fell another 3.5% to its lowest since early January amid ongoing worries about its profitability – despite meeting expectations in its latest quarterly update.

Cannabis stocks were broadly higher after Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) narrowed its losses by more than expected. Canopy Growth stock rose 17.3%, while Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY) stock climbed 7.7% and Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB) rose 3.1%.

In other markets, crude oil futures bounced amid reports of renewed buying by smaller Chinese refineries, in what was interpreted as a sign that the collapse in spot demand from the world's biggest importer was past its worst.

U.S. crude futures rose 1.2%, breaking through $52 a barrel for the first time in two weeks, while Brent futures rose 1.6% to $57.22.

Gold futures also rose, breaking through the $1,580 level to trade at $1,584.35 a troy ounce. up 0.3% on the day.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of developed market currencies, weakened fractionally from intraday highs to trade at 98.96.

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