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