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
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
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
While every major sector is positive in the last month, our
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.
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