U.S. stock futures are little changed, consolidating
yesterday's broad rally.
The major indexes are down fractionally after the S&P 500 and
Nasdaq 100 closed at multiyear highs on Monday. European indexes
also advanced cautiously but have surrendered much of their
earlier gains. Asian bourses rallied 1-2 percent overnight,
following strength in U.S.
Investors now face a choice between putting more capital to work
with the SPX already up 13 percent so far this year, waiting for
a pullback. Economic news has fed confidence in stocks, while
comments yesterday by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
suggested borrowing costs will remain low for the foreseeable
The next big event comes at 10 a.m. ET today, when the Conference
Board reports consumer confidence for March. A strong reading
would probably be bullish and increase investor appetite for
stocks. Bernanke is also scheduled to make another speech, this
time at 12:45 p.m.
Foreign exchange and commodities are also hovering, but mostly
bullish. Currencies associated with risk, such as the euro,
Australian dollar and Canadian dollar are down slightly after
climbing yesterday. Gold and silver remain fractionally positive,
and most agricultural foodstuffs are strong. Copper is down by
about half of a percent.
In company-specific news, homebuilder Lennar rose almost 4
percent in early trading as orders and pricing rebounded.
First-quarter earnings per share also came in at $0.08 -- twice
what analysts had expected.
Apollo Group, however, dropped about 6 percent after reporting
that the Securities & Exchange Commission had investigated
its revenue-recognition practices. The action was concluded
without any enforcement against the company, and is weighing on
APOL shares despite quarterly results beating expectations.
Ista Pharmaceuticals, which makes eye-care medicines, also agreed
to be acquired by closely held Bausch & Lomb for $9.10 a
share. ISTA is up 8 percent on the news.