Stocks decline but commodities gain

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Stocks are edging lower after Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti resigned, but commodities are strong.

The S&P 500 is indicated to open lower by about 0.2 percent amid declines of about 0.5 percent in Europe. Most Asian markets were higher in the overnight session.

Monti is stepping down after political giant Silvio Berlusconi said that he would seek the Italian premiership once again. While the news is weighing on equities, other headlines are more positive: China reported that industrial production grew 10 percent last month and retail sales increased by 15 percent. Those numbers exceeded expectations and came despite weak export growth, which suggests the Chinese economy is becoming more self-sufficient.

Greece also extended a debt buyback program, giving the debt-laden country more time to complete a process needed for receiving a bailout. Attention today will focus on a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama, whose comments will be viewed for clues about the looming "fiscal cliff" in Congress.

Commodities are mostly stronger on the Chinese data, with oil and copper both up by about 1 percent. Gold and silver are up by more than 0.5 percent, but agricultural foodstuffs are modestly lower.

Foreign-exchange is painting a mixed picture, with the euro climbing despite Monti's resignation. Most other currencies associated with risk, such as the Australian dollar, are down slightly. The Japanese yen, considered a safe haven, is higher across the board.

In company-specific news, Ingersoll-Rand is climbing about 2 percent after announcing it would spin off its security division, buy back stock, and increase its dividend. Honeywell could also be active after issuing a weak outlook for 2013.

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