U.S. Markets open in 4 hrs 50 mins

Stocks continue bullish momentum

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Stocks are inching higher today, maintaining their bullish momentum from earlier in the month.

S&P 500 futures are up 0.15 percent, while most European markets are higher by about 0.5 percent. Asia was strong overnight, with Tokyo and Hong Kong each gaining more than 0.6 percent and India's Sensex continuing its run to record levels.

The S&P 500 has risen in five of the last seven sessions after bouncing at it 100-day moving average earlier this month. Investors have kept buying despite weakening economic data from Europe, focusing instead on strong employment trends in the United States. They've also been heartened by dissipating geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East.

Housing is a significant theme today, with Home Depot gaining 3 percent in early trading after beating estimates and raising guidance. Housing starts and building permits are due at 8:30 a.m. ET. The retail sector remains in focus throughout the week, with companies like Lowe's, Target, and Staples reporting tomorrow.

Attention turns to global monetary policy on Friday as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi speak in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The big question is how much European policy makers will use stimulus to counter deflation and slowing growth.

Transports have led the gains since the market regained its footing in the last week. Our researchLAB market scanner also shows money flowing into solar-energy stocks, hospital operators, oil refiners, and emerging markets including Russia and Brazil. Oil drillers, local television operators, and 3-D printers have fared the worst.

In other company-specific news today, Dick's Sporting Goods is up 5 percent after sales and profit beat expectations. Aeropostale also gained almost 10 percent after the company brought back an old CEO and raised its guidance. Elizabeth Arden fell 8 percent after missing estimates. Rackspace Hosting may also be active after Blue Harbour Group disclosed a 6.4 percent stake in the cloud-computing stock.

European weakness remains the dominant theme in foreign-exchange markets as the euro and sterling both crumble against the U.S. dollar and Japanese yen. Oil rose about 0.3 percent and is attempting to halt its recent slide. Gold, silver and copper are fractionally higher too, while most agricultural products remain under pressure.

More From optionMONSTER