Futures higher after record close

Stocks are poised for a potential breakout to new highs as investors await key retail-sales data.

S&P 500 futures are up almost 0.2 percent following a gain of 1 percent yesterday. Europe is mixed, with Frankfurt up 0.7 percent, Milan down 0.7 percent, and other bourses between those two. Tokyo rallied 2 percent overnight and Mumbai rose another 1.3 percent as investors remain optimistic about India's new government under the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The S&P 500 closed at a record 1896.65 yesterday, bolstered by powerful rallies in the small-cap, transportation, and Nasdaq 100 indexes. The market has pushed against current resistance levels for the last two months, which could make some chart watchers expect a breakout in the near term.

Attention now turns to the government's retail-sales report 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists are estimating an increase of 0.3 percent overall and 0.6 percent excluding automobiles. Retail and consumer-discretionary stocks have been returning to favor in recent weeks after a period of underperformance, so strong data from the Commerce Department could drive equities to new highs.

Other economic news overnight disappointed: Chinese industrial output and retail sales both missed forecasts and Germany's Zew economic-sentiment index fell more than expected to its lowest level since January 2013.

This morning's other items include export and import prices, along with results from Encana. Fossil, and Take-Two Interactive Software report numbers in the afternoon. The next two sessions are more active, and bring key technology earnings: Cisco Systems after the bell tomorrow and Applied Materials Thursday afternoon.

Takeover talk also continues to bubble, with reports surfacing late yesterday that AT&T wants to buy DirecTV. Bloomberg also reported that Pfizer may raise its takeover offer for AstraZeneca.

Other groups to climb in the last week include office-supply retailers, health insurers, cloud-software providers, video-game makers, energy frackers, credit-rating agencies, and cinema operators. (See our researchLAB market-analysis tool for a more detailed look.)

In other company-specific news, Halozyme Therapeutics is indicated higher by 15 percent after regulators accepted the company's plan to enroll patients for a key drug trial. Delay of the study erased one-third of the stock's value last month. Rackspace Hosting rose 12 percent on strong results and perfume maker Elizabeth Arden cratered 17 percent after missing estimates.

Oil rose is up half a percent, while copper, gold, and silver are down about one-third of a percent. The U.S. dollar is up against most other currencies and the euro is falling on the heels of the weak Zew reading.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Copyright © 2010 OptionMonster® Holdings, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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