News that manufacturing is on the mend combined with positive news from the real estate sector send stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) wasn’t enough to keep the markets in positive territory this morning.

The Institute of Supply Chain Management reported that its index of manufacturing activity rose to 52.9 in August from 48.9 in July and well above the 50.5 expected by analysts, reports Tali Arbel for the Associated Press. What is even more encouraging about the index is that it broke the 50 mark, which is the threshold between growth and contraction. A reading above 50 indicates that growth is present.

Pending U.S. home sales rose more than expected to their highest levels in more than two years. The National Association of Realtors stated that its seasonally adjusted index of sales contracts signed in July for previously occupied homes rose 3.2% to 97.6, marking the sixth straight increase and 12% above the same month last year, reports Alan Zibel of the Associated Press. Construction of homes and apartments rose by 2.3% in July. Despite the upbeat news, the iShares U.S. Dow Jones Real Estate Index (IYR) was down nearly 1% in intraday trading.

The Commerce Department reported that construction spending dipped 0.2% in July, worse than the flat reading anticipated by analysts and a reflection of the weakness in nonresidential building and government projects.

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