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Stock futures fall but remain in range

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Stocks are down today, reversing yesterday's gains, and may be settling into a summertime trading range.

S&P 500 futures are off about 0.3 percent, while European indexes are little-changed. Asian markets posted small gains overnight.

The S&P 500 has been shuffling between 1675 and 1709 for almost a month, consolidating above the previous all-time highs from May. Economic data has been increasingly positive during that time, highlighted by strengthening economic reports from the United States, Europe, and now China. At the same time, central bankers have shown little urgency about raising interest rates, increasing the favorable backdrop for equities.

Nonetheless, there will be fewer catalysts in coming sessions because earnings season is winding down and most of the important data has been released. We didn't publish a calendar story today because there is nothing on the agenda until Germany releases its Zew survey of economic sentiment on Tuesday. Volumes are also likely to wane during the summer vacation season.

The most noteworthy development in the last week was probably the strength in metal and mining stocks, especially after China's strong trade data Wednesday night. That report, which followed similar news one month earlier, could mark a turn for a sector that's been weak for more than a year. (See related story on coal miners .)

Copper is inching higher again today, but oil is up even more with a gain of about 0.3 percent. Precious metals are down slightly, and agricultural products are mostly higher.

Trading in the foreign-exchange market is mixed, with the euro down slightly and the Japanese yen posting small gains. Currencies associated with commodities, the Australian, and Canadian dollars, are both up against the greenback.

In company-specific news, Priceline.com is up 6 percent after reporting strong quarterly results. Ubiquiti Networks rocketed more than 30 percent after handily beating estimates. Universal Display is also higher, but Dendreon fell 18 percent after reporting more weak sales numbers for its Provenge cancer drug. BlackBerry rose 9 percent after Reuters reported that the company is open to being acquired, citing unidentified sources.

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