Equities set for positive start to week

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Stocks are drifting higher in light trading as commodities rebound.

S&P 500 futures are up by about one-third of a percent, matching similar moves in Europe. Chinese and Japanese markets were both closed for holidays.

Investors face a busy week of economic news, with manufacturing data in Asia, Europe and the United States, plus central bank announcements on both sides of the Atlantic. It climaxes with the pivotal non-farm payroll reports Friday morning. (See our daily calendar briefing for more.)

Equities have been churning in a range for the last month as the S&P 500 vies with previous all-time highs from 2007 and economic data weakens. This morning, the European Commission reported that confidence fell in the common-currency zone as pessimism spread to regional stalwart Germany.

Despite some negative headlines, investor sentiment has been supported by corporate earnings, which continue to flow today with companies including Eaton, Hertz, and Masco.

Commodities are the main catalyst today as metals rebound from a violent selloff earlier in the month. Silver is up 2.5 percent, gold has rallied 1.5 percent, and copper has gained 1 percent. Oil is modestly higher, and most agricultural foodstuffs are posting gains.

Foreign-exchange trading follows a similar pattern as currencies associated with commodities appreciate. The Australian dollar leads the move, followed by the Canadian dollar and euro. The Japanese yen is down against the euro and sterling, but up against the greenback, so dollar weakness is the theme.

In company specific news, birth-control maker Conceptus is up 20 percent after accepting a $1.1 billion takeover offer by Bayer. Disney is also up 1 percent after getting upgraded to "buy" from "neutral" by UBS.


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