Stocks are drifting lower today after weak economic news from
China, but retail sales later this morning could change that.
S&P 500 futures are down about one-third of a percent,
following declines of a similar magnitude in Europe. Most Asian
markets were lower, though Japan's Nikkei continued its blistering
run with a gain of another 1.2 percent.
China's fixed-asset investment slowed while industrial production
missed forecasts. But the big headline of the day comes at 8:30
a.m. ET, when the Commerce Department reports retail-sales data for
April. Economists predict contraction of 0.3 percent, compared with
a negative 0.4 percent reading the previous month.
The S&P 500 closed at another record level on Friday and has
climbed in 13 of the last 16 sessions. Money has been streaming
into the equities amid signs that the world's economy is recovering
and as years of bias toward fixed-income investments ends.
This week's calendar keeps the focus on the global picture, with
Germany's Zew survey of financial sentiment and European industrial
production scheduled for tomorrow. Corporate-earnings season is
Price performance in the last week also suggests that sentiment is
turning more bullish as aggressive sectors such as transports,
small-caps, industrials and consumer-discretionary stocks
outperform the S&P 500.
Foreign-exchange trading paints a modestly bearish picture, with
the Japanese yen higher and currencies associated with growth such
as the Australian and Canadian dollars lower. The euro, however, is
climbing slightly against the U.S. dollar. Oil is down about half a
percent but is rebounding from earlier lows. Copper is little
changed, precious metals are mixed and agricultural foodstuffs are
Airlines may be active today after a France reported a new case of
the potentially fatal coronavirus, which first appeared in Saudi
Arabia. Major airline stocks are down more than 4 percent in Europe
on worries a general outbreak will hurt travel.