Stocks inch lower, stay in tight range

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Stocks are down modestly today after trading in a very tight range yesterday.

S&P 500 futures are off less than 0.1 percent, while most European indexes are down by less than 0.5 percent. Asia was mostly positive in the overnight session, led by a 2 percent rally in Tokyo as the Japanese yen weakened.

The S&P 500 fluctuated in a range of less than 6 points yesterday, ending the session fractionally below its previous all-time closing high from late last month. Heartened by strong economic data and awash in cash, investors have been reluctant to sell equities or take profits even near these record levels.

Our researchLAB market scanner shows broad strength across most sectors, but financials have led in the last week--something that hasn't occurred for months. Brokerages, life insurers, and financial exchanges are among the best performers in the group during that time. There has also been a shift back toward the United States, with the S&P 500 outperforming other country indexes in the last month.

This week also provides few headlines to color sentiment. Today's only economic release is the Chicago Federal Reserve's relatively unimportant regional activity index at 8:30 a.m. ET. Attention will now likely focus on testimony by Janet Yellen on Thursday during her confirmation hearings before taking over the Fed. Investors will remain sensitive to indications on when the central bank may reduce bond purchases.

Earnings season is winding down, though today brings results from homebuilder D.R. Horton, satellite-television provider Dish Network, global telecom Vodafone, and Chinese solar company Yingli Green Energy. NQ Mobile and Sina follow in the afternoon. Tech heavyweight Cisco System also reports tomorrow afternoon.

In other company-specific news, Rackspace Hosting is down about 9 percent after quarterly profit missed expectations yesterday afternoon. Medical-imaging stock Hologic is also down 14 percent on a weak set of numbers.

Commodities and currencies are mixed but present a modestly bullish picture. West Texas Intermediate crude oil is down about 0.4 percent while Brent crude is advancing a similar amount. That combination is potentially bullish for refinery stocks.

Copper and gold are down about half a percent, and most agricultural products are up slightly.

The most noteworthy move in foreign-exchange markets appears to be weakness in the Japanese yen, which is near its two-month low against the U.S. dollar. That's potentially bullish for equities. However, the euro and Australian dollar, which tend to correlate with risk appetite, are down.



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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