Stocks are inching higher again today as investors confront the specter of recession across the Atlantic.
S&P 500 futures rose about 0.1 percent, and the Nasdaq is up slightly more. European markets gained about 0.4 percent as investors anticipate the region's central bank will use monetary stimulus to encourage growth. Asia was mixed overnight, with India and Japan rising more than 0.6 percent but China falling a similar amount.
Today's disappointing headlines came from Germany, whose 0.2 percent contraction in second-quarter gross domestic product was wider than the 0.1 percent drop forecast by economists. That follows poor European industrial production numbers earlier this week and follows a recent pattern of slowing activity on the Continent. Italy already slid back into recession last week.
While the United States has been stronger, there have also been some negative numbers here. Retail sales missed estimates yesterday and this morning Wal-Mart Stores cut its earnings forecast because of slow customer traffic. WMT shares were fractionally lower on the news. The next significant report is initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET, and then the calendar remains light for the following week -- at the same time that summer vacation season peaks.
The S&P 500 is in the middle of its range since the beginning of June, and has recently been trying to rebound from a sharp drop in late July. The Nasdaq-100 has fared the best of the major indexes and is now barely 1 percent below its previous high.
In other company-specific news, Cisco Systems fell almost 1 percent after issuing weak guidance yesterday afternoon. Data-center stock NetApp rose 2 percent on strong enterprise spending. Three-dimensional printing stock ExOne is down 9 percent on a weak set of numbers. Kohl's also rose slightly after profit beat estimates. Amgen edged lower on the heels of weak data for its Kyprolis advanced multiple myeloma drug.
Commodities and currencies are little changed.
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