Traders taking profits near highs

Profit-taking is the theme today as stocks are retreat from record highs.

S&P 500 futures are off almost half a percent, while most of Europe is down about 1 percent. Asia was mixed overnight, with Japan's Nikkei rebounding, India's high-flying Sensex pulling back, and most other indexes little-changed.

The S&P 500 has been surging for weeks, with gains in 13 of the last 17 sessions, after breaking out of a three-month consolidation pattern. The index also formed a so-called spinning top on Monday, a potential reversal pattern that could make some chart watchers expect a pullback.

The rally has come amid a widening perception of stronger economic conditions. Recent data suggests that consumers are borrowing again and expect home prices and wages to increase. Weekly mortgage applications rose 10 percent, according to numbers earlier this morning. The only other report today is crude-oil inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Tomorrow is busier, with retail sales and initial jobless claims. Headlines will also come from overseas: European and Indian industrial production, the start of the World Cup in Brazil, and the Bank of Japan's monetary announcement in the evening.

While every sector is up in the last month, our researchLAB market scanner shows biotechnology and small drug makers leading the advance. Managers of commercial property, television broadcasters, airlines, and cloud-computing stocks have also outperformed.

In company-specific news, semiconductor company Rambus increased revenue guidance for the current quarter while Ulta Salon Cosmetics & Fragrances beat estimates and issued a strong outlook. Both companies are up about 9 percent in early trading. Orexigen fell 10 percent after the Food and Drug Administration delayed by three months approval of its Contrave anti-obesity treatment. Synaptics is up 18 percent after agreeing to buy Apple supplier Renesas SP Drivers for $475 million.

European Brent crude oil rose 0.4 percent after Iraqi rebels took control of Mosul, while West Texas Intermediate gained 0.1 percent. Gold and silver are up about 0.25 percent, but copper is down 0.6 percent. Currencies are modestly cautious, as the safe-haven Japanese yen climbs. But the Australian and Canadian dollars, which tend to follow risk appetite, are higher.

Disclosure: I own RMBS shares.

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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