Stocks retreat from long-term highs

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Stocks are retreating from a multi-year high despite big gains in Asia.

S&P 500 futures are down by about 0.2 percent and have been edging lower in the last hour, while the European indexes have followed a similar trend. The Nasdaq is weak after a negative report about Apple.

The big moves occurred overnight on the other side of the globe, where China's Shanghai Composite rallied 3 percent. The gains in Asia came after Chinese regulators said they may allow foreigners to increase purchases of mainland equities, plus a call by Japanese Prime Minister Abe for more economic stimulus. India also rallied after the government delayed implementation of stringent tax rules.

Investors now face the onset of corporate earnings season, with a heavy focus this week on major banks such as JP Morgan and Bank of America. Financials have been the strongest sector in the last year as they recover from the 2008 credit crisis and draw investors with their low valuations.

The S&P 500 is also sitting around the same multi-year high where it peaked in September. The big question facing traders now is whether to take profits on recent gains or to put more money to work on the long side.

Commodities are modestly bullish, with oil, gold, and copper higher by about 0.5 percent. Silver and platinum are up by more than 1 percent, while most agricultural foodstuffs are gaining as well. Currencies are mixed and not painting a clear picture in one direction or the other.

In company-specific news, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple reduced orders for components used in its iPhone 5 smart phone. AAPL is down more than 3 percent and attempting to hold the same $500 that's been support since mid-November.

Verint, a maker of intelligent networking equipment, is up 11 percent on a report it may be acquired by Israel's Nice Systems.

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