Futures point to fifth positive session

optionMONSTER

Stocks are rising for a fifth straight day, lifted by strong earnings and a lack of bad news.

S&P 500 futures are up almost half a percent, while most European indexes are posting similar gains. Asian markets also inched higher overnight.

Strong bullish momentum from the first-quarter's 10 percent rally seems to be the main catalyst supporting equities. Huge stockpiles of cash accumulated in bonds over the last four years have been flowing into stocks since the fourth quarter, keeping pullbacks shallow--even as economic data points to slowing in the last month.

Corporate earnings season has also given investors reasons to buy. One theme that's been emerging this quarter has strength in new technology sectors--especially semiconductors and fiber-optic devices. Software companies, on the other hand, have been weak.

Conservative plays such as health care and consumer staples had led the market in February and March, but our proprietary researchLAB analysis tool has shown increased risk appetite over the last week as energy and materials outperform, while health and staples lag. Small caps have also been strong in the last week, despite underperforming over the preceding month.

The S&P 500 has been consolidating around the same levels where it peaked in October 2007. Other key benchmarks such as the Dow Jones Transportation Average, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and Russell 2000 have already broken out to new record highs.

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The economic agenda is light today, with weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET as the main release. Tomorrow is more active, with first-quarter gross domestic product and consumer sentiment both scheduled.

Commodities paint a bullish picture today as copper gains another 1.3 percent, following a strong rally yesterday. The metal, often viewed as a bellwether for the global economy, had fallen to a 52-week low earlier in the week. Oil is up slightly and precious metals are higher by more than 1 percent. Agricultural foodstuffs are positive as well.

Weakness for the U.S. dollar is the main theme in foreign-exchange markets, as the euro, Australian dollar, Canadian dollar, and Japanese yen all appreciate against the greenback. Interestingly, the yen is down against other currencies, which is potentially bullish because it means that both "safe havens" are getting sold.

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