Stocks waver despite gains overseas

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Stocks are down slightly today despite gains overseas.

S&P 500 futures are fractionally lower, while most European markets are up by at least one-tenth of a percent. Spain's IBEX index is standing out with a gain of almost 1 percent as buyers return following late-January pullback. Japan's Nikkei also rallied 2 percent in the overnight session, continuing its recent uptrend. Chinese markets remain closed for the Lunar New Year.

Stocks rallied to long-term highs last month as long-term investors started shifting money out of bonds, while attention focused on strong corporate earnings and an improving global economy. The focus now shifts toward politics as finance ministers conclude a meeting in Brussels and the United States prepares for President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address this evening. 

Trading in the commodity markets is mostly bullish, with oil and copper advancing by about one-third of a percent. Precious metals are little changed, and most agricultural foodstuffs are lower. The euro is also higher against the U.S. dollar, but other currencies associated with risk such as the Australian dollar are lower. The Japanese yen is mostly higher, a sign of potential risk aversion.

In company-specific news, British securities firm Barclays is indicated to open higher by about 6 percent after announcing at least 3,700 job cuts. Apple is also likely to be active because CEO Tim Cook will address the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference at 10:45 a.m. ET.

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