Stocks are holding their gains before a shortened Christmas Eve
S&P 500 futures are up less than one-tenth of a percent, one
day after climbing half a percent to a new record closing high,
while European indexes are also up about half a percent. Asia was
modestly higher in the overnight session, led by a 1 percent gain
in Hong Kong after China's central bank took steps to ease worries
of a credit crunch.
The market closes three hours early, at 1 p.m. ET today, but there
are still several items on the economic agenda. Weekly mortgage
applications, usually released on Wednesday, already came out and
showed a continued decline in home-related borrowing because of
higher interest rates. Durable-goods orders are next at 8:30 a.m.
ET, followed by the FHFA Housing Price Index at 9 a.m. ET and
new-home sales an hour later. There is no trading tomorrow in
observance of Christmas.
Equities have been advancing steadily all year thanks to an
improving economy, ample cash on the sidelines, and a benign
monetary backdrop. The S&P 500 consolidated between 1780 and
1810 between mid-November and mid-December, only to break out last
Wednesday after the Federal Reserve announced a modest decrease in
monetary stimulus. It's closed at new record highs in three of the
last four sessions.
While consumer-discretionary and health-care stocks led the advance
earlier in the year, our
market scanner shows sentiment shifting in the last month toward
technology and industrial companies. That reflects expectations
that businesses will increase spending and drive the next phase of
the economic expansion.
Homebuilders and related companies have also been coming to life
flurry of call buying
in the last two weeks. They had lagged since the spring as interest
Copper is the biggest mover among commodities this morning,
advancing about half a percent. Crude oil is inching higher,
natural gas isd down fractionally, and precious metals are mixed.
The main theme in foreign-exchange markets is weakness in the
Japanese yen, which tends to be positive for equity prices.
In company-specific news, Supernus Pharmaceuticals is indicated
higher by 17 percent after announcing that the Food and Drug
Administration approved its Orenitram heart drug. CalAmp is down
more than 8 percent after forecasting fourth-quarter earnings and
revenue below analyst estimates.
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