Equities in range after big gains


Stocks are hovering in a range this morning after another record close yesterday.

S&P 500 futures are little-changed, while most European indexes are posting small gains. Asian markets were mostly positive overnight, led by a 2 percent rally in Tokyo.

The S&P 500 surged more than 1 percent yesterday and is up more than 6 percent from its lows less than a month ago. It's been surging as money streams into equities following years of pessimism. There are also few events that seem to endanger the rally, with budgetary battles in Washington and debt worries in Europe receding into the past. Even poor economic numbers from Germany, France and Italy earlier this morning failed to incite selling.

There are several minor data points in the United States today, including mortgage purchase applications, producer prices, the New York Federal Reserve's Empire Manufacturing Index, and the NAHD's housing-market survey. Tech giant Cisco Systems issues results after the close.

Price performance across the market continues to reflect bullishness as riskier sectors such as small-caps and transports have outperformed in the last month. A rotation into beaten-down global stocks also seems to be developing as groups including Chinese Internet companies, emerging-market telecoms, and rare elements have led the gains on our researchLAB analysis tool in the last week.

Commodities are painting a bearish picture today as sellers hammer copper, precious metals, and agricultural foodstuffs. Oil is also down by about 1 percent. Currencies are mixed, with the euro and Australian dollar lower against the greenback. But the Japanese yen, which tends to move in the opposite direction as stocks, is mostly lower.

In company-specific news, Agilent Technologies is up modestly after second-quarter results beat expectations. Gap is also climbing after being raised to "buy" from "neutral" at Citi. Research in Motion is down more than 2 percent after getting downgraded to "market perform" at Bernstein.

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