Stocks pause near record highs

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Stocks are up slightly today as they consolidate within striking distance of new highs.


S&P 500 futures are up fractionally, while Europe is rising slightly more as conditions keep improving in once-troubled countries like Spain and Portugal. Asian markets were mostly negative overnight, with weakness in China still weighing on the region.

The S&P 500 edged lower yesterday but held most of its gains from the previous two sessions. It's less than half a percent from its all-time high reached on Wednesday and is holding support above its key 10-day moving average. The big question now is whether the index is ready to break its short-term double top at 1848 without first requiring a bigger pullback.

Investors have also been digesting a steady flow of earnings. Last night, semiconductor giant Intel's earnings and guidance both missed expectations, sending the shares down 3.5 percent in early trading. Capital One is also down on a weak report, but American Express is higher.

General Electric is falling slightly, but Morgan Stanley is posting a small gain after releasing mixed numbers this morning. Oil-services company Schlumberger climbed almost 1 percent after beating expectations and raising its dividend. The bigger movers are chip maker Skyworks Solutions, which rallied 10 percent on a strong report, and drug developer ArQule, up 30 percent after a committee of safety monitors allowed trials of its liver drug to continue.

While every major sector is positive in the last month, our researchLAB market scanner shows technology and materials leading in the last week. Utilities have also advanced as interest rates fall. Consumer-discretionary stocks have dropped to the bottom of the heap as retailers suffer from a poor holiday shopping season. Biotechnology, IT outsourcing, software, and cloud computing have also been strong.

Commodities associated with economic growth--oil and copper--are up about half a percent today. Precious metals are fighting back from earlier losses and agricultural products are mostly lower. The Japanese yen is mostly lower in foreign exchange markets, while the euro is down against most other currencies. 



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.

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: SPX

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