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Equities climb as uptrend continues

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Stocks are climbing again today as investors see no reason to sell with indexes at long-term highs.

S&P 500 futures are up about 0.2 percent. Europe was mixed to lower but is now accelerating to the upside as the opening bell approaches in the United States. Most Asian markets climbed overnight.

The S&P 500 spent about two weeks consolidating above the key 1500 level, with buyers stepping in to support the index at increasingly higher levels. The bullish price action occurred against a backdrop of positive economic data, strong earnings, and lessening fiscal dangers. At the same time, trillions of dollars locked up in the bond market after years of crisis are beginning to return to stocks.

While the market's reaction to President Obama has often been negative, his State of the Union speech last night gave investors few reasons to worry. Traders will now be looking forward to the release of January retail-sales data at 8:30 a.m. ET. Technology giants Cisco Systems and Applied Materials will report earnings after the closing bell tonight.

Foreign-exchange and commodities continue to paint a modestly bullish picture. Currencies associated with risk appetite--mainly the euro and the Australian dollar--are higher. Oil and copper are also posting small gains, while agricultural foodstuffs are lower. One standout is natural gas, with a gain of more than 1 percent.

In company-specific news, cable giant Comcast announced that it would buy the rest of NBC Universal from General Electric for $16.7 billion. That has CMCSA higher by 8.5 percent, while GE rose 2.8 percent. Financials also remain strong today as investors put money to work in a sector where major names such as Bank of America and Citigroup still trade for less than book value.

Rackspace Hosting, Buffalo Wild Wings, Blue Nile, and Bankrate are indicated lower after weak quarterly reports.

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