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Stocks hovering at multi-year highs

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Stocks are hovering after the S&P 500 closed at another multi-year high yesterday.

S&P 500 futures are down slightly this morning, reversing earlier gains. The Nasdaq 100 and Dow Jones Industrial Average are faring better after strong results from IBM and Google after yesterday's close. Most European indexes are little-changed, and Asian markets were mixed in the overnight session.

While Congress is expected to approve an increase in the U.S. debt ceiling today, attention is increasingly shifting away from politics toward corporate earnings and global growth. And most of the headlines have been positive on that front.

GOOG and IBM are both higher after reporting better-than-expected earnings and saying that business conditions were improving. McDonald's also beat estimates, and Apple is on the docket for this afternoon. Chinese manufacturing data will also be released this evening, which could affect sentiment toward emerging markets and commodities.

The S&P 500 now stands at its highest level since late 2007, while the Russell 2000 small-cap index and Dow Jones Transportation Average are both in record territory. The main question facing traders in the near term is whether to put money to work after rallies of 4-8 percent in the last month or wait for a pullback.

Commodity and foreign-exchange markets are reflecting cautious optimism. The euro and Australian dollar are both higher, while the Japanese yen is surrendering earlier gains. Oil and copper are up by about one-tenth of 1 percent, along with most agricultural foodstuffs and precious metals.

In other company-specific news, light-emitting diode company Cree is up about 13 percent after its earnings and revenue beat forecasts. Intuitive Surgical climbed 8 percent on a strong report as well, while organic-food company Annie's is indicated lower after recalling pizzas because of the possibility of metal in the dough.

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