S&P 500 retreats from record territory

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Stocks are lower today as the S&P 500 pauses near all-time highs.

Futures are down by about one-third of a percent, with the losses accelerating in the last 20 minutes. Europe is mixed, and Asian markets were little-changed overnight.

Equities have enjoyed strongly bullish sentiment since the beginning of the year, which brought the S&P 500 to an all-time intraday high earlier this month. It then declined and bounced at its 50-day moving average, ending yesterday at a new closing high. The index has risen in six of the last seven sessions, and the big question facing investors now is whether to chase stocks at these levels or wait for a pullback.

Several economic reports in coming days could inform that decision. The Case-Shiller index of home prices is scheduled for 9 a.m. ET today, followed by consumer confidence one hour later.

Attention now turns to the global economy tonight and early tomorrow morning when China and European countries report manufacturing data. There is also U.S. manufacturing data and the Federal Reserve's interest-rate decision tomorrow, and the key non-farm payrolls report on Friday.

Corporate earnings remain active as well. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is indicated lower by more than 4 percent after its profit missed estimates and management cut full-year guidance.

Networking company Riverbed Technology is also showing sharp declines after weak government spending hurt results. Pharmacy-benefits company Express Scripts is up 2 percent in early trading after its earnings beat consensus.

Foreign-exchange trading is modestly bearish as the euro, Australian dollar, and Canadian dollar edge lower while the Japanese yen gains across the board. Commodities are mixed, with oil and copper down, but precious metals and agricultural foodstuffs are positive.

Our researchLAB market-analysis tool also shows buyers returning to homebuilders in the last week after consolidating earlier in the year. Casinos, European banks, Russian stocks, and solar energy have also been strong. In macro sectors, sentiment shifted in favor of more aggressive stocks utilities and health care cede leadership to materials and energy.


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