Stocks hover near record highs


Stocks are little-changed today, pausing near last month's record highs.

S&P 500 futures have shed earlier gains and are now essentially flat. Europe has also weakened in the last hour, and Asia posted modest losses in the overnight session.

The S&P 500 has been advancing steadily all year. It began the month with a pullback to its 30-day moving average, only to rally on a strong employment report last Friday. It rose another 0.18 percent yesterday, led by materials and technology stocks.

Strength has been scattered across almost all sectors, although recent sessions have seen capital flowing into economically sensitive areas such as coal, steel, casinos and emerging markets. Our researchLAB market scanner has also detected buying in silver miners as traders hope for a bounce in the beaten-down precious-metals space--something that may be unfolding today.

China reported better-than-expected retail sales but industrial production and fixed-asset investment lagged forecasts. There are no other important economic events until Thursday, which brings European industrial production, initial jobless claims and United States retail sales. H&R Block also reports earnings this afternoon. Tomorrow morning brings Costco and coal-mining equipment stock Joy Global.

Bond yields are easing today, which could give a boost to housing-related names. The group was already strong yesterday, with bullish options activity in several companies, as investors for months of weakness to end. (See related story )

Energy and precious metals are rallying today. West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose about 1.25 percent, outpacing European Brent crude's 0.8 percent gain. That price action tends to be bullish for producers and potentially bearish for refiners. Natural gas is up another 1 percent.

Silver and gold are gaining 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively, attempting to rebound after establishing higher lows versus their late-June troughs. Copper rose less than half a percent and agricultural products are mixed.

Currencies are little changed, with the euro and Australian dollar inching higher while the Japanese yen strengthens.

In company-specific news, homebuilder Toll Brothers climbing 4 percent after earnings and revenue to beat expectations thanks to higher prices. Drug developer Geron is also up 15 percent after presenting data on its Imetelstat drug at the American Society of Hematology's 2013 Annual Meeting.

Ocean shipping companies may be under pressure after the Wall Street Journal reported that Eagle Bulk Shipping and Genco Shipping & Trading may restructure their hefty debt loads. Pep Boys is also down more than 10 percent on a weak quarterly report.

Disclosure: I own EGLE shares.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

Copyright © 2010 OptionMonster® Holdings, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: SPX



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