Stocks are climbing again on bullish sentiment in Japan and
Germany, although commodities are sounding a more cautious tone.
S&P 500 futures are up almost two-tenths of a percent, while
European markets are up by almost a full percentage point. But
the real move occurred in Tokyo, where the Nikkei index surged
almost 3 percent.
The rally in Japan follows a technical collapse of the yen
through the key 101 technical level against the United States
dollar. Headlines were also positive in Europe as German exports
rose more than expected and Luxembourg-based steel giant
ArcelorMittal reported better-than-expected quarterly results.
Yesterday, the S&P 500 declined for the first time since
breaking out above the key 1600 level last week. It's only
declined in three of the last 15 sessions. The index has been
steadily advancing as credit spreads narrow and money flees low
yields in the bond market. The big question now facing investors
is whether to keep buying after the strong run or to wait for a
There are relatively few catalysts to help inform that decision.
The only event on the calendar today is a speech on banking
regulation by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as the market
opens at 9:30 a.m. ET. It will probably be watched closely for
clues on the central bank's plans to stimulus the economy.
Despite the gains in equities, oil is down a full percent and
precious metals are lower by more than 2 percent. Copper, often
viewed as a bellwether for the global economy, is fighting back
from earlier losses and is now little changed. Agricultural
products are mostly lower.
The foreign-exchange market is also painting a mixed picture.
While the selloff in the yen is bullish, other currencies
associated with risk appetite such as the euro, Australian dollar
and Canadian dollar are down against the greenback.
In company-specific news, retailer Gap is indicated higher after
reporting strong sales and issuing a bullish profit forecast.
Online travel agency Priceline.com is indicated lower on weak
guidance, while health-care IT company Allscripts Healthcare
Solutions fell after earnings missed consensus estimates.
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