Stock indexes pause at new highs

optionMONSTER

U.S. stocks are little-changed this morning after closing at record levels yesterday.

Most European markets are up by more than half a percent after government reports showed that German industrial production rose unexpectedly in March and Chinese trade expanded more than forecast in April. Both headlines support a view that the global economy is emerging from a slow period earlier this year. Asian markets rose by more than half a percent overnight.

The S&P 500 ended yesterday near 1626, its sixth record closing high in the last seven sessions. Investors have been increasingly comfortable taking risk as credit spreads narrow, home prices rise, and consumers keep spending despite higher taxes and cuts in government spending.

There are also few economic reports this week or next that could derail a rally. Tomorrow is the busiest day of data, with monthly same-store sales and initial jobless claims due before the bell. The main events next week are retail sales on Monday and housing starts on Thursday.

optionMONSTER's proprietary researchLAB market scanner shows sentiment turning more aggressive in the last two weeks as cyclical sectors such as energy, industrials and materials gain traction over conservative allocations like health care. Emerging markets and international stocks have started to outperform as well.

Mortgage guarantors and European lenders, which suffered most amid the debt crises of the last five years, have also been strong in the last two weeks.

Commodities and currencies are painting a similar picture, with the euro, Canadian dollar, and copper all advancing. Oil is retreating, however, and agricultural products are mixed. Precious metals are posting small gains.

In company-specific news, outsourcing giant Cognizant Technology is indicated higher by 5 percent after earnings and revenue beat expectations. Medical-information company WebMD will probably be active as well after reporting strong results and raising guidance. Online advertising company ValueClick is sharply lower on weak revenue.

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