With economic data taking center stage, after a weaker-than-expected German GDP number, U.S. indexes sent an ambiguous signal, with industrial production rebounding, import prices rising, and housing starts falling.  U.S. equites opened in the red and remained there in early trading ahead of an all-important meeting between French President Sarkozy and Germany’s Angela Merkel.

The Nasdaq led the decline, down 0.8% to 2,524 by 10:41 AM in New York, followed by the S&P 500 which slid 0.7% to 1,196.  The Dow was trading down 0.4% to 11,432.

Worries that the U.S. economy continues to cool-off have given economic data renewed primacy.  Tuesday saw a series of indexes showing a mixed message.

The good news was industrial production, which jumped 0.9% in July, the largest increase of the year. Data released by the Federal Reserve came in above Wall Street’s consensus of a 0.5% increase as the auto sector rebounded on easing supply chain constraints in Japan.  Calling it “anticipated,” Barclays’ research team noted that 5.2% jump in auto production saw support from various other sectors too, particularly surprising were “stronger-than-expected gains in the volatile utilities and mining components, the former up 2.8%, the latter 1.1%.”

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