New York Community Leads Bank Stocks Higher as U.S. Manufacturing Surprises to Upside

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- New York Community Bancorp (NYCB) was the winner among large-cap U.S. bank stocks on Thursday, with shares rising 1.3% to close at $15.58.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 each rose 0.6% while the NASDAQ Composite added 0.7%, as positive manufacturing data at home overshadowed weakening data in China.

The HSBC/MarkitFlash China Manufacturing PMI for February came in at 48.3, declining from 49.5 in January. A purchasing managers index reading below 50 indicates contraction, and this is the fourth-straight decline for the China PMI, as well as its lowest level in seven months.

"The building-up of disinflationary pressures implies that the underlying momentum for manufacturing growth could be weakening. We believe Beijing policy makers should and can fine-tune policy to keep growth at a steady pace in the coming year," said HSBC chief economist for Greater China in a press release.

Markit in a separate release discussing the China PMI said employment data "painted the darkest picture," with payrolls falling at their fastest pace since February 2009. "PMI respondents have reported that factory headcounts have now fallen continually since last October, with the rate of job losses gathering momentum so far this year," Markit said.

The news back home was much more positive, with the Flash U.S. Manufacturing PMI coming in at 56.7, which was a huge increase from 53.7 in January and the highest level for the U.S. PMI since May 2010. The preliminary February data indicated "that output growth recovered strongly from January's three-month low, suggesting manufacturers have started to shake off the disruptions caused by heavy snowfall and extreme weather conditions in parts of the U.S," Markit said.

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