Stocks stay bullish near record highs

Sentiment remains bullish today with stocks near record levels and investors hoping for more central-bank stimulus.

S&P 500 futures is up about 0.2 percent. The index has risen for seven of the last nine sessions after bouncing at its 100-day moving average earlier this month. Yesterday it closed less than 2 points below its all-time closing high of July 24.

Preliminary manufacturing data from HSBC/Markit was weaker than expected for China and Europe. While normally bearish, the news is making investors expect monetary stimulus from the European Central Bank. It's also focusing attention on a speech by ECB President Mario Draghi at the Federal Reserve's annual meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday.

Europe is up across the board, led by the higher-risk markets of Italy and Spain. Asia was mostly lower overnight, with Seoul down 1.4 percent and Hong Kong falling more than 0.6 percent. Tokyo, however, surged almost 1 percent.

Today's calendar also features initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET, followed by existing home sales and the Philadelphia Fed's regional activity index at 10 a.m. ET.

Aside from Jackson Hole tomorrow, kicked off by Fed Chair Janet Yellen at 10 a.m., the agenda remains relatively light through Labor Day weekend at the end of the month.

Despite weakness overseas, most domestic indicators have been strong recently--especially housing numbers earlier this week. That's fueled buying in consumer-discretionary stocks such as retailers and homebuilders. Our researchLAB market scanner also shows transports and industrials coming back to life in the last week, led by airlines, railroad suppliers, and truck makers.

In company-specific news, Hewlett-Packard is inching higher after quarterly revenue beat expectations yesterday afternoon. Sears declined about 5 percent after reporting a wider-than-expected loss. Hormel Foods rose 2 percent after sales and profit beat consensus.

Discount retailers could be active as well after Family Dollar rejected a takeover offer from Dollar General. Dollar Tree also reported mixed results.

The weak manufacturing data is weighing on commodities, sending oil, copper, and precious metals down more than half a percent. Agricultural products are fractionally higher. Currencies are modestly bullish, with the euro trying to rebound and the safe-haven Japanese yen slightly lower.

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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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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